State election leaders sent letters last week to 825 registered voters in North Carolina, warning that they “may not possess an acceptable form of photo ID” for voting next year. State law will require all North Carolina voters to show a picture ID to vote. Ted Fitzgerald, the state’s lead voter outreach specialist, said Monday the letter went to a narrow slice of voters: those who signed a form at the polls this year saying they don’t have the acceptable ID required to vote in 2016. The letter asks people to fill out a form about whether they plan to get an acceptable ID, or if they need help getting one. The ID requirement is part of legislation state Republican legislators passed in 2013. The Voter Information Verification Act also reduced the early voting period from 17 to 10 days, eliminated same-day voter registration and abandoned out-of-precinct provisional voting.
The letter told voters they could get free IDs, valid for voting in 2016, through the state Division of Motor Vehicles. The letter also explained the requirements for getting an alternate ID if they have a “reasonable impediment” to getting a traditional ID.
Fitzgerald said the move is part of the state’s plan to make sure all North Carolina voters are aware of — and prepared for — the ID requirements next year. “What we’re finding is that most voters have photo ID,” he said.
The N.C. NAACP, the U.S. Department of Justice and other groups have sued the state, claiming the law is discriminatory. They have argued that blacks are disproportionately more likely not to have a photo ID. They also said blacks and Hispanics will have more difficulty in filling out a “reasonable impediment” declaration.