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As chief judge at a precinct in Raleigh this year, I had an inside view of North Carolina’s election reforms. I covered the May primary, July run-off, and November midterm elections.
Several of the provisions in the law passed last year were implemented this time around such as reduction in the number of early voting days (but not number of hours), having to vote at your own precinct, and an end to same-day registration. And although the photo ID requirement was not yet in effect, great care was taken to educate and prepare voters for it in 2016.
When voting in person, typically the first stop is the registration table. After finding a voter’s Authorization to Vote (ATV) in the poll books, and before sending them along to get a ballot, poll workers were required to point out that photo identification will be required for 2016. We were instructed to ask each voter if they had one of eight forms of ID (Drivers License, Passport, Military ID, etc.), and invite those who do not to fill out an Acknowledgement of No Photo ID form.
The response to this was overwhelmingly in favor of the 2016 photo ID requirement. In my precinct, not one voter indicated that they did not already have at least one of the eight forms. Not a single person completed the No Photo ID form.
In fact, responses were very positive and ran along the lines of:
“It’s about time we had this.”
“Ridiculous that we haven’t always had to show ID to vote.”
“Have to have ID to cash a check or fly… I’m sure everybody already has one…”
I was especially proud of my team when they graciously thanked anyone who spontaneously offered their photo ID, as stories abound of poll workers scolding and snapping at voters who produce ID when not required.
Of course, there were a few who appeared to be opposed to voter ID, but I noticed a significant drop in the number of negative comments from the May primary to November. Solid arguments for protecting the integrity of every legal vote, plus polling that shows great support for photo ID requirements across the country, are finally overcoming unfounded, unsupported claims of voter suppression and hardship.
Occasionally, the Authorization to Vote (ATV) form that a voter picks up at the registration table indicates that the poll worker needs to see an ID before giving out a ballot. This is usually because the board of elections has not yet had the opportunity to verify this voter’s registration, and in no way prevents someone from voting if they can produce any one of dozens of forms of ID, including utility bills and bank statements (under the old law).
I handled one case where a young, first-time voter, who had registered on campus was very understanding—but her mother was not—when I explained that the best thing was for her to return with her ID. Mom got pretty heated, perhaps choosing to mistake this long-standing requirement for the new 2016 one, but more likely just looking to vent her opposition to our new election reforms; unfortunately at the expense of her daughter who was obviously embarrassed.
The requirement that people must now vote in their own precinct probably caused the most difficulty and confusion across the state on Nov. 4. In the past, things were pretty lax regarding out-of-precinct voting. Voters in the wrong location were allowed to cast a provisional ballot even though in many cases it was the wrong ballot based on their residential address. We had to transfer quite a few folks to their correct precinct, and all but a few were very understanding.
Making sure that folks are voting their correct ballot better serves not only candidates, but more importantly, their constituents, as this better represents the will of the people.
Featured image from Shutterstock
Tags: chief judge, Election Day, North Carolina, Voter ID
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