After years of contentious legal battles, presenting voter identification in order to vote in elections has been ruled constitutional in North Carolina and will be enforced this election year. Qnotes has created a guide to Voter ID for our readers so you know what identification can be used at the polls, what to do if you can’t provide identification, and more.

What is Voter ID?

Voter ID has become more of a partisan topic across America over the last decade or so. No state elections prior to 2006 required a voter to present a government-issued photo ID until Indiana enacted a strict photo ID law. According to ProPublica, that law was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court two years later and set the precedent to allow other states to pass similar legislation.

Why do we need Voter ID?

These laws were designed with the intention of preventing voter fraud, ensuring people couldn’t lie about their identity or double vote. However, studies have shown voter fraud is extremely rare, even without Voter ID laws in place.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU, voter fraud incidents occurred at rates between 0.0003 percent and 0.0025 percent noting it would be more likely an American “will be struck by lightning than that he will impersonate another voter at the polls.” In addition, a comprehensive study conducted by the Washington Post revealed only 31 ballots out of 1 billion ballots from the 2014 election were flagged for fraud.

PBS News Hour reported the 2020 election only had 435 potential instances of voter fraud out of more than 25 million ballots cast.

What do I need to bring to the polls this year?

North Carolina will require photo identification for both in-person and mail in voters starting during the early voting period, which starts October 19.

Acceptable photo IDs include: a North Carolina driver’s license, State ID from the NCDMV (also called “non-operator ID”), Driver’s license or non-driver ID from another state, District of Columbia, or U.S. territory (only if voter registered in North Carolina within 90 days of the election), a U.S. Passport or U.S. Passport card, a North Carolina voter photo ID card issued by a county board of elections (voters can get a free photo ID from their local Board of Elections), a college or university student ID approved by the State Board of Elections and a state or local government or charter school employee ID approved by the State Board of Elections.

What if I don’t have access to get a photo ID?

All voters will be allowed to vote with or without an ID, according to the North Carolina Board of Elections. From the website:

“If a voter cannot show photo ID when voting in person, they can still vote by filling out an ID Exception Form. If absentee-by-mail voters are unable to include a copy of their photo ID with their ballot return envelope, they can also fill out an ID Exception Form with their ballot.”

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