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Latest on the Photo ID Requirement to Vote: 

Beginning in 2020, North Carolina voters will be required to provide photo identification when voting in-person or absentee-by-mail, with some exceptions. This requirement is not in place for any election in 2019. (Session Law 2019-4, signed by governor on March 14, 2019.)

In the 2018 general election, 55 percent of voters approved a constitutional amendment requiring photo ID to vote in North Carolina. Subsequently, the N.C. General Assembly approved Session Law 2018-144, which implements the constitutional requirement for voter photo ID.

This hub will be updated regularly with additional voter ID information, events, and resources.

ID Challenges

On February 22, 2019, a state court judge threw out two amendments to the North Carolina Constitution that voters approved in November, including the strict photo ID requirement to vote.

In the 13-page opinion, Superior Ct Judge G. Bryan Collins, Jr. wrote, “An illegally constituted General Assembly does not represent the people of North Carolina and is therefore not empowered to pass legislation that would amend the state’s constitution.” The original lawsuit, filed in August 2018 by Forward Justice for plaintiffs the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP and Clean Air NC, asserted that the legislature was “unconstitutionally constituted” due to gerrymanders and therefore the two amendments were “void.” Two other amendments approved in November 2018 were not part of the lawsuit, so were not affected by the ruling. The ruling has been put on hold pending an appeal.

Other lawsuits are also challenging the Voter ID law that provided the enabling language for that amendment. One lawsuit, filed by Southern Coalition for Social Justice, is in Wake County Superior Court, which decided on March 12 to hand the case over to a three-judge panel for consideration. Another lawsuit over the voter ID law was filed by the NC NAACP and is pending in federal court.

Ways to Protect Voters:

The ID law as passed would “require” voters to show an acceptable photo ID — but also has exceptions so people can vote in person without one. The law is complex; it will be hard to administer and will be a barrier to some voters.

How you can help

Educate voters about their rights.

The ID mandate doesn't go into effect until 2020, but we must educate voters about it now! Download our updated resource to share with your community.

Keep up with what’s happening with the law. 

This law and the way it is implemented will continue to change moving forward. Stay up to date on the latest rules and how you can help.

NC’s NEW Photo ID Requirements to Vote: What the Law Says

Excerpted from “NC’s NEW Photo ID Requirements to Vote: What the Law Says, How to Help,” also available at


The law says voters should show one of these photo IDs when they vote in person; the ID can be expired for up to one year:

  • NC driver’s license;
  • Photo ID from your county board of elections; it will be free to registered voters who give last 4 digits of their Social Security # and birthdate (there may be other requirements, as well); and is good for 10 years;
  • Non-driver’s ID from NC DMV; it’s free to citizens who show a birth certificate and other documents;
  • US passport;
  • Enrollment card from a US or NC recognized tribe;
  • Student ID from a NC private or public college or community college that follows strict procedures for issuing ID cards, under State Board of Election rules; after 2020, the card must have an expiration date;
  • NC state or local government employee ID card issued under strict procedures; cards issued after the 2020 election must have an expiration date;
  • US military or veterans card, even if it does not have an expiration date;
  • Driver’s license from another state, but only good for 90 days after the person registers to vote in NC.


  • If you have an acceptable, unexpired ID at age 65, it’s good for life–  its expiration no longer matters.
  • The address on your ID does not matter; the law says ID is only used to prove who you are, not where you live.
  • Mail-in absentee voters must send a copy of an identity document with their ballot request or with the returned ballot; rules will clarify how this works.


  • You can vote a provisional ballot, but then must take an acceptable ID to your county board of elections by the day before the results are certified (canvass day);
  • You can vote a provisional ballot and not show any ID at the polls IF:
    • you have a religious objection to being photographed and sign an affidavit affirming your identity;
    • you live in an area with a natural disaster declared by the president or governor within 100 days of Election Day and you sign an identity affidavit;
    • you sign an identity affidavit and give a reason for not having an acceptable ID. The form for stating a “reasonable impediment” includes such reasons as lack of transportation, disability or illness, work schedule, ID lost or stolen, and “other” with a blank line to fill in. Rules must clarify what’s an acceptable reason.


There are a number of things we still do not know, and that you can urge the State Board of Elections to address through rule-making and action, including:

  • The law says your name on the ID may also be different from your name on the voter roll, but not how different.
  • Poll workers or anyone else can challenge the voter’s ID at the polls, but it’s not clear how to judge if the ID “reasonably resembles” the voter. This is a key area of our advocacy for good rules.
  • County election boards must begin issuing photo ID cards by May 1, 2019; they will need equipment, supplies, training, and rules to achieve this goal.
  • The State Board must conduct a large education program, with mailings to all voters. Remember: funds are provided for counties and the Board, but not enough.