LAURINBURG — Scotland County’s state representatives cut through the fine print of North Carolina’s voter identification law on Thursday to deliver a simple point to members of the Scotland County Democratic Party: no eligible voter will be prevented from voting by lack of ID.
The new laws will take effect for the first time this year in the March primary elections, which include races from the Scotland County Board of Education up to national party nominees for United States president.
“Make sure that your constituencies are acutely aware of the changes,” Party Chairman Walter Jackson said to precinct leaders. “A lot of times folks do not keep up with local Scotland County or North Carolina news, therefore when election time comes up they are in the dark and we want to bring light to this process.”
Acceptable forms of photo identification include a North Carolina driver’s license or state-issued identification card, U.S. passport, military identification, veteran’s identification card, and cards issued by recognized Native American tribes.
According to state Reps. Garland Pierce (D-Scotland) and Ken Goodman (D-Richmond), a multitude of options exist for either acquiring a valid form of identification or, failing that, voting without one.
“They’ve tried to make it a little harder, but there is no reason why anybody can’t vote,” Goodman said. “We had to fight the voter ID law in court, and that’s the place to fight it, but now we’ve got to comply with the law and do it the way we’re required to do it. So let’s get out and prove that they did not suppress the Democratic vote with voter ID.”
Obtaining ID from a N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles driver’s license office requires two documents proving age and identity, one document to prove North Carolina residency, and a Social Security number. The fee for the card itself is $10, but ID will be provided for free to those for whom the cost is a hardship.
Photo ID is not required to cast a mail-in absentee ballot. Ballot request forms are available at the Scotland County Board of Elections or online at ncsbe.gov and must be submitted by 5 p.m. on March 8.
Those over the age of 70 may use an expired identification of any vintage, as long as it expired after the holder’s 70th birthday.
“Years ago some people were born and they put it in the Bible, they had midwives, so a lot of people did not have the documents necessary in order to get voter ID,” Pierce said. “That was our early argument in the General Assembly as Democrats about some of the people that you would leave out.”
Voters who face a “reasonable impediment” to obtaining identification may vote if they can provide their date of birth and the last four digits of their Social Security number. Or they can present a utility bill, government document, paycheck, or other acceptable document listing their name and address.
“The most important thing to remember and tell people is that no eligible voter will be turned away or not allowed to vote because of the voter ID requirement. If a person does not have an ID, they can vote anyway,” said Goodman.
Though he opposed the identification requirements, Pierce pointed out that no level of red tape should prevent any eligible voter from exercising their right to cast a ballot for the candidates of their choice.
“Too many people have bled and died for us to have the right to vote,” he said. “I was talking to some fourth grade students at West Hoke yesterday and I was telling them that in our country people walked for miles, standing in line in the hot sun to vote. They understood the importance of voting, and we’ve got to have that same passion.”
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.