North Carolina’s photo ID voting requirement resulted in confusion, long lines and voters not being able to cast a ballot at the polls during the March 15 primary, activists said Wednesday in a conference call. “We saw poll workers being absolutely uninformed about the requirement,” said Allison Riggs, an attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “We saw voters being turned away.” Penda Hair, an attorney representing the North Carolina NAACP in its legal challenge against the photo ID requirement, said that polling places in Winston-Salem and Durham had long lines. Voters at First Alliance Church in Winston-Salem stood in line for an hour and 45 minutes. Tim Tsujii, the Forsyth County elections director, said some polling places had long lines as they were about to close at 7:30 that night. State law requires polling places to serve all voters who are in line before the closing time. Many people who were affected by the photo ID requirement were racial minorities and poor people, activists said.
The March 15 primary was the first test of North Carolina’s photo ID requirement. Under the law, registered voters have to present one of six kinds of photo ID — a North Carolina driver’s license, provisional license or learner’s permit; a special nonoperator’s ID card; a U.S. passport; a tribal enrollment card issued by a federally or state recognized tribe; an ID card issued by another state subject to certain limitations; and a military or veterans ID card.
Last year, the General Assembly eased the photo ID requirement, allowing voters without an ID to fill out a reasonable impediment declaration and then cast a provisional ballot.
Bob Hall, the executive director of Democracy North Carolina, said that even with the changes, voters had problems casting a ballot. He said his organization sent out more than 700 people to take incident reports and refer people to a hotline. “Over the period from early voting to Election Day, that hotline got over 1,000 calls,” Hall said. “The complexity of the new voter ID law and the variety of exceptions turned our election system into a bureaucratic nightmare. You’d think constitutional lawmakers would find that repulsive.”