Next time you go to vote, you had better have some sort of photo identification with you. This is just one of the new North Carolina voter rules that have been enacted this year, or will be in 2016.
Pi Sigma Alpha—the National Political Science Honor Society at Queens—hosted a Voter Registration forum on Sept. 24 on campus. Some of the topics discussed were changes in voter registration laws that will affect North Carolina voters in upcoming elections. Speakers included Dr. Mark Kelso, who is a professor at Queens, Jean Reed from the League of Women Voters, and Jean Veilleux of the Charlotte School of Law.
In 2013, the General Assembly of North Carolina passed an updated Voter Identification Act. This act included new identification requirements and some changes to the process in which elections have been conducted in previous years. Effective as of January 2016, all voters will be required to present some type of photo identification at the polls.
“On the surface, it seems like a reasonable idea, why shouldn’t you have to show a photo id to vote? I think there is a certain amount of common sense perhaps in that. The problem becomes as I said, when you think about how we implement this, especially the overall cost and it’s potential to disenfranchise people from voting,” said Kelso.
According to information gathered from Democracy North Carolina, there are other new regulations for voting as of January 2014:
- Free IDs and documents – if qualified, voters may apply and receive a “special ID card” from the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
- Early voting – has been reduce to 10 days
- Mail-in Absentee Voting – Absentee Ballot request must be on a form from the county elections board
- NO Same-day registration – voters must be registered 25 days prior to election (halted by 4th Circuit Court of Appeals 10/1/2014)
- NO Straight Party Voting – Straight ticket voting is eliminated
- NO Out-Of-Precinct Voting – Provisional ballots cast in wrong precinct on Election day will not be counted (halted by 4th Circuit Court of Appeals 10/1/2014)
- NO teenage pre-registration – pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds ends.
Pi Sigma Alpha has teamed up with the Campus Election Engagement Project—a non-partisan project—in an attempt to increase their knowledge in these new laws, voter registration and young adult turn out at the polls. To encourage this they will be having a “Queens Voter Engagement Contest”, open to all SGA-recognized clubs, organizations, and sports teams. $250 is the grand prize to the group. The group must have the highest number of voter turnout in proportion to membership. The group participation must be documented by Nov. 6; this can be done by taking a picture with an “I voted” sticker.
It is after all as Kelso said, “Groups that vote get more attention from the government.”
Queens Voter Engagement Contest Regulations
-Only registered SGA clubs and organizations can participate
-Contest runs from now until Nov. 6. All documentation of club members voting must be in by midnight on Thursday, Nov. 6
-To prove how many members of your club or organization voted in the November 4th election, you must tweet a picture of each club member who votes with the #QueensVotes . The picture can show a club member with an “I voted” sticker (given at the polls), or with a signed absentee ballot being mailed.
-Clubs and organizations must also submit a list of all their members who voted to firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight on Nov. 6. -In order to vote you must be registered first.