Got ID, NC?

NC’s NEW Photo ID Requirements to Vote:

What the Law Says, How to Help

The new ID law “requires” voters to show an acceptable photo ID, beginning later in 2019 – but also has exceptions so people can vote in person without one. The law is complex; it will be hard to administer and will be a barrier to some voters. Let’s overcome confusion, help people get an acceptable ID, and fight anti-voting laws with more voting!

Keep up with the fight and protect voters in the process by regularly visiting

Three ways to protect voters – and how you can help:

1. First, keep up with what’s happening with the law. Among other problems, this law accepts some photo IDs but not others, and has biases that will harm people based on their race, income, age, gender and mobility – just like the last ID law. It’s therefore possible that the law will be challenged in court.

2. Second, help advocate for voter-friendly rules. The State Board of Elections must write guidelines to implement the new law through a rule-making process that is open to the public.

3. Third, help educate voters now about their rights and what the ID requirement really means.

What the law says:

ACCEPTABLE IDs. The law says voters should show one of these photo IDs when they vote in person; the ID can be expired for up to one year:

  • NC driver’s license;
  • Photo ID from your county board of elections; it will be free to registered voters who give last 4 digits of their Social Security # and birthdate (there may be other requirements, as well); and is good for 10 years;
  • Non-driver’s ID from NC DMV; it’s free to citizens who show a birth certificate and other documents;
  • US passport;
  • Enrollment card from a US or NC recognized tribe;
  • Student ID from a NC private or public college or community college that follows strict procedures for issuing ID cards, under State Board of Election rules; after 2020, the card must have an expiration date;
  • NC state or local government employee ID card issued under strict procedures; cards issued after the 2020 election must have an expiration date;
  • US military or veterans card, even if it does not have an expiration date;
  • Driver’s license from another state, but only good for 90 days after the person registers to vote in NC.


  • If you have an acceptable, unexpired ID at age 65, it’s good for life– its expiration no longer matters.
  • The address on your ID does not matter; the law says ID is only used to prove who you are, not where you live.
  • Mail-in absentee voters must send a copy of an identity document with their ballot request or with the returned ballot; rules will clarify how this works.


  • You can vote a provisional ballot, but then you must take an acceptable ID to your county elections board by the day before election results are certified (canvass day);
  • You can vote a provisional ballot and not show any ID at the polls IF:
    • you have a religious objection to being photographed and sign an affidavit affirming your identity;
    • you live in an area with a natural disaster declared by the president or governor within 100 days of Election Day and you sign an identity affidavit;
    • you sign an identity affidavit and give a reason for not having an acceptable ID. The form for stating a “reasonable impediment” includes such reasons as lack of transportation, disability or illness, work schedule, ID lost or stolen, and “other” with a blank line to fill in. Rules must clarify what’s an acceptable reason.

QUESTIONS THAT NEED ANSWERS. There are a number of things we still do not know, and that you can urge the State Board of Elections to address through rulemaking and action, including:

  • The law says your name on the ID may also be different from your name on the voter roll, but not how different.
  • Poll workers or anyone else can challenge the voter’s ID at the polls, but it’s not clear how to judge if the ID “reasonably resembles” the voter. This is a key area in our advocacy for good rules.
  • County elections boards must begin issuing photo ID cards by May 1, 2019; they will need equipment, supplies, training, and rules to achieve this goal.
  • The State Board must conduct a large education program, with mailings to all voters. Remember: funds are provided for counties and the Board, but they are not enough.

For more information and resources, visit Democracy NC’s online ID Hub at

(Resource updated as of December 19, 2018.)

Go Vote!

There are three ways to vote: (1) with a mail-in absentee ballot, (2) in person at your precinct poll on Election Day, or (3) in person at an Early Voting location in your county during the Early Voting period (from the 12th to 3rd day before Election Day). For valuable tips about voting, see

By voting early, you can avoid possible bad weather and long lines on Election Day. Using Early Voting is also the best way to update your registration or solve any problems because you moved within the county. If you move to a new county, be sure to register to vote in that county at least 25 days before Election Day. See for other rules.

Questions about voting? Call 1-888-OUR-VOTE

For more information, visit

Got ID NC is a project of Democracy North Carolina.