Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project works with colleges and universities across North Carolina to empower students with information they need to register and vote. We can say unequivocally that the recently passed strict, photo voter ID S.B. 824 is bad for student voters and Governor Cooper should veto the bill.
S.B. 824 is a legislative smoke screen that on paper includes student IDs from North Carolina’s public, private, and community colleges and universities, however, it also enacts a by-institution approval process intentionally designed and implemented in ways to make sure that no institution’s student IDs will actually be approved for use as voter ID. CVP’s National Director Mike Burns noted, “North Carolina’s citizens elected a new legislature in November and current legislators should stop undermining our democracy and allow a full and considered debate in the new year on how to best implement voter ID in North Carolina. There is no rational justification for this lame duck legislature to jam through such a flawed bill and then force the State Board of Elections to certify which student IDs can be used as voter ID 600 days before the 2020 general election.”
You can read CVP’s full letter urging Gov. Cooper to veto S.B. 824 below or here.
December 10, 2018
The Honorable Roy Cooper
Governor of North Carolina
20301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-0301
Re: Veto S.B. 824
The vast majority of states that require voter ID allow the use of college and university IDs as voter ID, and instead of a smoke screen, North Carolina should offer a real measure that does so as well. In its most recent special session, the North Carolina legislature has hurried through a poorly considered strict photo voter ID bill that you should veto. We ask that you urge this lame duck legislature to respect that outcome and leave consideration of the implementation of the voter ID constitutional amendment to the legislators who citizens elected in the November.
Beyond these fundamental considerations of the proper functioning of a representative democracy, S.B. 824 is a fatally flawed strict photo voter ID that appears designed to purposefully limit the use of tribal and student IDs in conflict with provisions of the state and federal constitutions. We have enumerated below how extreme and out-of-step S.B. 824 is regarding student voters. Thank you for your consideration and we hope you will do the right thing by all North Carolina students and veto S.B. 824.
Most restrictive process: No other state in the country has a process as restrictive for accepting college and university IDs as voter ID as that currently proposed by the North Carolina legislature. The supposed inclusion of college and university student IDs is illusory. Under S.B. 824 no college’s or university’s student IDs are approved for use as voter ID. Given the absurd hurdles created for a college or university to receive such approval from the State Board of Election, it is unlikely that any student IDs will be accepted for voting in the 2020 elections.
- No other state in the country shifts the burden to each individual college or university to seek approval of its student ID issuing process, under penalty of perjury, for those IDs to be accepted as voter ID.
- Colleges and universities already have well-established and secure processes to identify students for everything from financial aid and billing to access of campus buildings. Therefore, 163A-1145.2 process for approving voter ID-compliant student IDs is a legislative smoke screen, not a serious effort to ensure student voters can cast a ballot.
- In fact, the state already trusts colleges and universities to appropriately identify students to the point that they accept a diploma as proof of identity for a driver’s license. See here: ncdot.gov/dmv/help/Pages/proving-identity.aspx
- It is the role of the voter registration process to establish a person’s eligibility to vote, so denying the acceptance of student IDs as voter ID from particular institutions based on pretextual security concerns around confirming citizenship status, Social Security Numbers, and dates of birth has no rational relation to the stated purpose of photo voter ID: “to confirm the person presenting to vote is the voter on the voter registration records.”
Redundant and irrational requirements: The voter ID bill already requires poll workers to evaluate the voter’s identity, whether the voter appearing in person resembles the photo on the presented ID.
- There is no reason to require that college and university IDs be unexpired. The voter registration process already establishes in-state residency and a photo ID establishes a person’s identity. Those IDs may expire, but the people they identify don’t.
- The state already concedes this point by allowing the use of military and veteran IDs irrespective of any issuance or expiration date, and allows voters over 65 to present expired IDs. Why are these groups of voters favored, while students are singled-out?
Intentionally obstructive implementation: The implementation process described in these bills is intentionally designed to prevent any student IDs from being accepted as voter ID until after the 2020 elections.
- S.B. 824 requires the State Board of Elections to certify which institutions’ IDs will be accepted for the 2020 election “no later than March 15, 2019” which is 600 days before Election Day 2020. This deadline is arbitrary and irrational, and therefore violates the U.S. Constitution.
- Additionally, the State Board of Elections is not required to even adopt temporary rules on mandated security measures for ID issuing processes until February 1, 2019, giving institutions only 41 days to hear the full details of what they have to affirm to under penalty of perjury and submit the necessary materials seeking approval of their ID issuance processes.
- Why is the legislature preventing the State Board of Elections from working with institutions to make sure these new policies can be understood and implemented without arbitrarily locking student voters out of the process over a year and a half in advance of the 2020 election?
Unduly Limits Free IDs: It does not make sense for local Boards of Elections to be prohibited from offering free voter IDs during the period between the close of one-stop voting and the election.
- Just before the election when the most voters are paying attention is a crucial time for local Boards of Election to continue informing the public and providing necessary voter IDs.
For additional context on the use of student IDs as voter IDs across the country, see http://campusvoteproject.org/administrators/student-id-as-voter-id or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project