North Carolina’s strict new voting law, which takes effect starting with elections in 2016, will make the state Division of Motor Vehicles a prime source of photo identification cards for non-drivers who want to vote. It turns out that photo IDs already are a big business for DMV. More than 1.1 million North Carolinians have valid DMV-issued photo IDs (which expire after 5 years), compared to 6.7 million with state driver’s licenses. Last year more than 270,000 people provided the necessary stack of documents, posed for the camera and, in most cases, paid a $10 fee. Why did they want these photo IDs? For any of the reasons anybody might be asked to prove his or her identity, of course: To get a loan or cash a check, to satisfy a curious police officer, to receive some kinds of government services, to get a job. Some of the folks who got DMV IDs are ex-drivers who surrendered their licenses because of age or illness. Many are too young to drive (8,671 of them last year were under 15 years old). And 122 of these were less than 1 year old – too young even to walk. “There are a lot of lap babies in our database,” said Marge Howell, a DMV spokeswoman. “A lot of people come in to get these ID cards for their children. Sometimes, as the child grows, they’ll come back to get progressive photographs to show that growth.”
In order to vote, you’ll need to get a DMV ID card if you don’t have one of the photo IDs accepted under the new law: a driver’s license, U.S. passport, U.S. military or veterans ID card, or tribal enrollment card.
This is a pretty exclusive list, isn’t it? After all, a UNC student ID card will get you into your dorm. And a corporate or government employee ID card will admit you to your biohazard lab at RTP, or to your job inside a courthouse or a maximum-security prison. But a student or employee ID won’t get you inside the voting booth.
The DMV ID looks exactly like a driver’s license, but with a different label. The $10 fee is waived for anyone who is blind or homeless or at least 70 years old, or whose driver’s license has been canceled under certain circumstances.
Be forewarned: Before you can get your DMV ID, you’ll need two documents to prove your ID to DMV. The requirements are the same as for a driver’s license.
And they are tough. Neither a U.S. passport – the gold standard at airports around the world – nor a certified birth certificate alone is sufficient to prove you’re who you say you are, but DMV will accept both documents together.