The State Board of Elections has approved 99 student and employee identification cards across the state for use in the 2023 municipal elections and 2024 primary and general elections in North Carolina.
These newly approved IDs include student IDs for all UNC System schools, as well as many other public and private colleges and universities. They also include employee IDs for many educational institutions, as well as some county governments and charter schools. All approved IDs include a photograph, which can be used to confirm a person’s identity when they check in to vote.
“We are grateful to all institutions that applied to have their identification cards approved for voters for the 2023 municipal elections,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections. “This gives voters additional options when casting their ballot.”
These IDs are in addition to the types of identification already permitted by state law for use by voters. The most common type of acceptable ID is a North Carolina driver's license, but there are other acceptable types of photo ID, which are listed on the State Board’s website at Voter ID. Students who have a driver’s license or other type of acceptable ID may use those, or, if their school’s ID is approved, they may use that ID instead.
The newly approved cards will remain valid for use as a voter’s photo ID through December 31, 2024. In the coming months, the State Board will announce additional ID application periods for 2024 elections.
“We look forward to receiving additional ID applications for the primary and general elections in 2024,” Brinson Bell said.
The IDs of six institutions that sought approval of their student or employee identification were not approved for use in the 2023 municipal elections because they lack expiration dates, which are required by state law. These institutions will be able to re-apply in the additional application period for the 2024 elections.
Background on the Voter Photo ID Requirement
Voters will be asked to show photo ID when voting in North Carolina, starting with the municipal elections this fall. Most voters will simply show their driver’s license. But there are many other acceptable photo IDs.
If a voter does not have an acceptable photo ID, they can get one for free from the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV). Find more information under “No-Fee ID Cards” at State IDs | NCDMV. Soon, voters will also be able to get a free ID card from their county board of elections. The State Board will issue a news release as soon as county boards of elections can print free IDs.
All voters will be allowed to vote with or without and ID. If an in-person voter does not provide an acceptable ID, the voter may fill out a Photo ID Exception Form (PDF) and vote a provisional ballot, or vote a provisional ballot and bring an acceptable ID to the county board of elections office by the day before the county canvass.
Voters who vote by mail will be asked to include a photocopy of an ID with their ballot, or complete a Photo ID Exception Form for Absentee Voting (PDF). The photocopy will be mailed in a special envelope to protect the voter’s personal information on their ID.
“We strongly encourage members of the media and advocacy groups to provide accurate information to voters about the photo ID requirement, including the available exceptions,” Brinson Bell said. “This new process should not discourage or prevent any eligible individual from voting and having their ballot counted. The State Board and county boards of elections are here to assist any voter who needs an ID or has questions about this law.”
The Student and Employee ID Approval Process
Beginning in late May and ending June 28, the State Board sought applications from eligible educational institutions and government employers that wished to have their IDs approved for voting purposes.
State Board staff reviewed the submissions to ensure they complied with criteria in state law. The recommendations for approved IDs were provided to the five State Board members for review. No State Board member objected to the staff recommendations.
All institutions recommended for approval complied with the requirements of Approval of student identification cards for voting identification. N.C.G.S. § 163-166.17 and/or Approval of employee identification cards for voting identification. N.C.G.S. § 163-166.18. See the full applications at NCSBE Public Files Folder: 2023 Student and Employee ID Applications.