Majority of Schools in the UNC System Do Not Meet New Voter ID Requirement

Shayna Prace
Staff Writer

A new photo voter identification requirement being put into place in North Carolina law next year will make it difficult for UNC-Greensboro and N.C. A&T students and employees who, in the past, have used their identification cards in order to vote. The ID cards do not comply with the new qualifications, according to state election officials.

These schools were not the only ones that didn’t meet the ID requirements for students or employees. There are about a dozen N.C. schools that do not.

The deadline recently passed for the State Board of Elections to decide which ID cards from government agencies, universities, community colleges and American Indian tribes meet the new security standards. The ones chosen are part of a group of several ID types that meet the requirements if shown as a voter’s polling place. Other accepted forms of ID include driver’s licenses or military IDs.

Over 70 institutions submissions were approved. In the Triad, approved submissions include employee IDs for the city of Greensboro, Winston-Salem State University, the town of Jamestown and Guilford Preparatory Academy. Accepted student IDs are those from Bennett College and Elon University.

ID cards at 12 of the 17 campuses within the UNC system failed to meet the requirements. In addition to all these students not being able to use their IDs, UNC Healthcare employee IDs were also rejected.

Based on the current voting laws, the institutions that were not approved cannot apply for reapproval until 2021, although some lawmakers have proposed a deadline extension. The qualifying voter ID was extended to both public and private universities after the 2013 voter ID law that prohibited their use was taken away.

Republican lawmakers chose not to immediately extend the deadline when they passed legislation, delaying the start of requiring photo ID until the 2020 elections. The delay allows the General Assembly more time to figure out what to do.

“Once the deadline has passed, we’ll know exactly what the problems are,” said David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican who pushed for ID legislation.

The problems go further than the lacking IDs of the colleges not approved, who have already claimed they may fall short of requirements. Less than 10 percent of the 850 schools, government agencies and Native American tribes whose ID cards are eligible for approval have even submitted requests.

“In some cases, institutions raised concerns that they believed they could not meet the current statutory requirements,” said Kim Strach, board Executive Director of the UNC system. “Others requested additional time to submit their request.” She said the problems were found to occur in two different areas.

The law stated that institution leaders had to attest that photographs on the ID cards had been taken by the school or the government. Some applications stated that the student or employee was allowed to provide their own photo, Strach wrote. Another standard includes confirming a student or worker’s identity by looking at their Social Security number, citizenship status and date of birth when a student enrolls or a person begins applying for employment. Some universities confirm identities in other ways, and for high school students taking college classes, they receive an ID without that process, said Strach.

“I wanted to bring the reasons for the disapprovals to your attention in hopes that there can be a legislative remedy so that more identification cards can be approved in advance of the 2020 elections when photo identification will be required to vote,” said Strach to lawmakers.

The board, “has the final say in approving those certifications, but it appears to me that they all meet the requirements passed by the legislature,” said Sen. Warren Daniel, a Burke County Republican, upon hearing that all 17 UNC system schools had submitted their applications.

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