GOT ID, NC?

In North Carolina, you can vote with or without an ID.

You need to show an acceptable photo ID to vote with a regular ballot inside the polls, but if you don’t have one there are other options described below.

Here’s the list of acceptable photo IDs:

  • NC driver’s license, learner’s permit or provisional license
  • NC special identification card for non-drivers
  • US passport
  • US military ID or veteran ID card
  • Tribal enrollment card from a federally or NC recognized tribe
  • Out-of-state driver’s license but only for 90 days after the voter registers in North Carolina.

If you do not have one of these IDs, you may obtain a “free” photo ID from the NC Division of Motor Vehicles by following the directions under “How to Get It.” Additional options are described below.

What if my ID is expired?

  • A NC driver’s license or other ID from the NC DMV may be used for voting for up to 4 years after it expires.
  • A military ID does not need an expiration date to use for voting.
  • A tribal card is good for up to 8 years after the issuance date to use for voting.
  • A US passport must be current to use for voting.
  • Exception: Voters over age 70 can use one of the acceptable IDs that is expired as long as it was current on their 70th birthday.

“Reasonable Resemblance”

The address on the ID card does not matter. (The ID is to prove your identity, not your residency.) However, the name on your ID should bear a “reasonable resemblance” to your name on the voter registration roll. The three senior poll officials (called precinct judges) must ALL agree that it does not for the ID to fail. If they agree it does not, you may vote a “challenge ballot” and follow the process under “What if I don’t have the right ID?” to make sure your ballot will count.

Check now to see if your name on your license or acceptable ID matches your name on the county’s voter registration roll. Go to www.demnc.co/myreg and follow the directions to see how your name appears on the registration roll. Or go to www.demnc.co/myboard, call your county board of elections, and ask them to tell you exactly how your name appears on the registration roll. Current law allows a registered voter to change his or her name on the registration roll at the polls, during Early Voting or on Election Day. But it’s best to make the change well before the election and be confident you have an acceptable ID to vote.

Who is exempt from showing an ID at the polls?

(1) Curbside voters – people eligible to vote from the curb because they have difficulty reaching the voting room because they have difficulty reaching the voting room without assistance from another person because of “age or a physical disability.” You will need to swear or affirm that you have this difficulty by checking a box on a form when you vote.

(2) Religious objection – people who have religious reasons for not wanting to be photographed. This declaration must be made at least 25 days before Election Day with the county board of elections. Contact your county board for details: demnc.co/myboard.

These voters must show an acceptable photo ID or a utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, or any government document with their name and current address, like a letter, bill, registration card, or statement of benefits.

In addition, a voter in a jurisdiction that has been declared a natural disaster by the President or Governor may sign a declaration and vote a regular ballot without showing a photo ID.

What if I don’t have the right ID?

You have 3 choices if you don’t have an acceptable ID and you don’t use a curbside or religious exemption.

Option 1: Get a “no-fee state ID.” You may apply for a free ID card from the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Two documents that may be used to get the ID are free from a county register of deeds: a NC birth certificate and NC marriage certificate. Follow the directions below under “How to Get It.”

Option 2: No ID? Vote absentee! You can vote by mail and not show a photo ID. No excuse is needed and any registered voter may do this. You must use an authorized form to request an absentee ballot; go to demnc.co/absform. On the form, include an identifying number (e.g., last 4 digits of your Social Security number) or send an identifying document. Read the instructions carefully and be sure to sign the form. For more about voting by mail see demnc.co/mail.

Option 3: Vote at the polls with a special provisional ballot. Ask for this at the polls. It will count if you check a box on an affidavit form that indicates why you don’t have an acceptable ID (a “reasonable impediment”) AND (1) write in your birth date and last 4 digits of your Social Security number OR (2) show a registration card, utility bill, pay stub, bank statement or any government document with your name/address. A “reasonable impediment” for not having ID may be: busy work or school schedule, lost ID, family duties, lack of transportation, lack of birth certificate, etc. Don’t give a frivolous reason or mock the law (e.g., don’t say, “because I oppose ID law”).

How to Get It

Here are the rules for getting a special ID for a voter. You need to take certain documents to the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office and say, “I want to apply for a no-fee ID for voting.” You may go to a DMV driver license office in any county; they are listed at www.ncdot.gov/dmv/contact/.

Declaration:

This ID usually costs $10. To get it free, you must sign a sworn statement that you do not have one of the acceptable IDs listed at the top. Lying is a Class I felony.

Registration:

To get the free ID, you must also be registered to vote or register when you apply. If you are registered, the DMV will verify your registration. Tip: Bring your registration card with you. If you are not registered to vote, you can register at the DMV.

Documents:

You must show documents with your full name that prove your identity, age and residence. You must also provide a valid Social Security Number. If DMV can’t verify your SSN, you will need to provide a document that shows the number. DMV lists the documents it accepts for each purpose. Some may serve more than one purpose.

Note: DMV may let you sign an affidavit if you don’t have these documents. Bring what you have!

Click below to see a list of acceptable documents for each purpose:

Bring two different documents that prove your identity; at least one must show your date of birth:

  • A driver’s license or ID card from another state, less than 1 year expired (even without a photo).
  • Original Social Security card.
  • W-2 or 1099 tax document.
  • Certified birth certificate or marriage certificate, a divorce decree, or court approval of a name or gender change or adoption from a government agency in US, US territory, Canada or Puerto Rico.
  • NC school transcript or registration signed by a school official; diploma/GED from a NC school.
  • Unexpired military ID, DD-2, DD-214, Military Dependents Card, or Veteran Universal Access card.
  • Limited driving privilege issued by a NC court that is less than one year expired.
  • Valid document from US Dept. of Homeland Security or US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • Motor vehicle record from NC or another state.
  • US court document for child support, arrest, etc.

Bring one document with your street address:

  • Any document issued by the government (local, state or federal agency) including a license, bill, registration card, tax notice, letter or order.
  • Utility bill, including cable or cell phone.
  • Housing lease, mortgage statement.
  • Preprinted financial statement, like W-2 or 1099
  • Official school record (not a report card).
  • NC vehicle insurance policy.
  • Letter from homeless shelter.

If you need to show a document with your Social Security number because DMV could not verify it, you will need to provide one of these:

  • Social Security Admin. document or SS card.
  • 1099 or W-2 tax form or payroll record.
  • Military or Veterans record or DD-214.
  • Medicaid/Medicare card.

After you present the necessary documents, you will leave the DMV with a provisional ID. You should receive your photo ID within 6 weeks or possibly sooner.

If you have problems during this process or need assistance, please call the State Board of Elections toll-free at 866-522-4723 or if problems continue, call Democracy North Carolina (sponsor of this website) at 888-OUR-VOTE ext. 7918 (888-687-8683 ext. 7918).

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 NCVoter.org.

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 NCVoter.org for other rules.

After you present the necessary documents, you will leave the DMV with a provisional ID. You should receive your photo ID wihin 6 weeks or possibly sooner.

If you have problems during this process or need assistance, please call the State Board of Elections toll-free at 866-522-4723 or if problems continue, call Democracy North Carolina (sponsor of this website) at 888-OUR-VOTE ext. 7918 (888-687-8683 ext. 7918).

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

For more information, visit NCVoter.org

Got ID NC is a project of Democracy North Carolina.