The North Carlina General Assembly has passed so much legislation recently that many of our heads are still spinning. Voter ID is among the most publicized changes to state law, but do you have any clue how it will affect you or what the changes actually are?
Here's a quick overview of what the state legislature passed and when those changes will be implemented. Below, we've included a document that runs through the new requirements in more detail. The short story: You probably won't be impacted by new voting laws for the Greensboro or Winston-Salem city council elections this fall.
The only change that begins in 2013, according to Guilford County Elections Board Director Charlie Collicutt, is pre-registration for people who are 16+. The previous law allowed people who were 16 or 17 to register to vote beforehand and the elections board would hold their registration until they were legally allowed to vote. Pre-registration will end on Sept. 1, though anyone who is signed up before that date will remain in the queue.
The changes will be implemented more fully at the beginning of 2014, including the elimination of same-day registration. Collicutt said 6,000 people in Guilford County used same-day registration in 2012 (which is more than some other elections because there was a presidential race). The 17-day early voting period will be reduced to 10 days, but a late amendment to the bill requires election boards to be open for the same number of early voting hours. Collicutt said the hours requirement wouldn't be difficult to meet, forcing them to either add sites and/or hours to the site over the 10 days. In 2012, 160,000 people voted early in Guilford County, about twice as many as Election Day, Collicutt said.
There's been some confusion about whether the NC General Assembly eliminated Sunday voting, which opponents said would disproportionately disenfranchise black voters. Collicutt said the early voting restrictions don't limit specific days but reduce the overall number of days, as far as he knows.
Voter ID will take full effect in 2016, but in 2014 election boards will ask voters who don't volunteer specific identification to produce one. If a voter doesn't have one, the new law requires board employees to provide them information on what ID will be required in 2014 and have them sign an affidavit that they received the information, Collicutt. To be clear, you will still be able to vote without an ID in 2014, but the board will provide voters without one information on how to obtain proper ID for 2016.
The state legislature also mandated that elections boards use voting machines that produce paper ballots in 2018. Guilford County uses electronic machines, but Collicutt said the board would probably be buying new machines around that time anyway.
"If I had to replace it right now it'd be about $2.5 million up front, plus the recurring cost of paper," Collicutt said, adding that he can't predict the cost of new equipment in 2018.
Read more about North Carolina's new voting laws here: