The ongoing debate in North Carolina over the use of student ID cards as a form of voter identification has taken another step forward.
As reported by Wilmington’s WECT News 6, House Bill 646 received final approval by a 109-6 vote in the North Carolina House of Representatives this week. The bill is intended to facilitate increased voting access amongst college students by enabling the use of university-issued ID cards for identity verification at polling stations across the state.
This latest approval vote comes after considerable reticence and pushback from a number of universities in the state over some of the wording in the proposed bill, as well as some of the requirements that voter ID compliance would impose on the ID card issuance process.
Much of the early reticence was caused by a mandate that the “chancellor, president or registrar” of each university must submit a signed letter to the State Board of Elections “under penalty of perjury,” affirming that the institution’s student ID cards are issued only after an enrollment process that confirms the student’s Social Security number, citizenship status and birthdate.
According to state lawmakers those concerns have been addressed.
“We worked together with our colleagues across the aisle and across the building to accomplish a common-sense solution to voter ID implementation,” said Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) during debate on the bill. “This update to the original bill conclusively resolves all known issues identified by the university system and Board of Elections. We worked with both of those entities to identify and address barriers to IDs being approved.”
The bill will add student ID cards to the existing list of voter identification in the state, including driver licenses, passports, military and veteran IDs, voter ID cards, as well as state and local government IDs.
House Bill 646 also extends the cutoff date imposed on state and private universities, community colleges and charter schools to ensure their campus cards are voter ID compliant from March 15 to November 15, 2019.
WECT reports that as of December 2018, when the constitutional amendment mandating photo identification a requirement at the voting booth was passed, as many as a dozen institutions in the UNC system were issuing ID cards that were not eligible forms of voter identification.
House Bill 646 allows voter ID cards to feature photos not taken directly by, but rather obtained by qualifying institutions — which under the new bill will include universities. Forms of voter ID must bear a frontal image that includes a clear, accurate likeness of the individual’s face.