North Carolinas 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 drivers 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, theyll come back to get progressive photographs to show that growth.
In order to vote, youll need to get a DMV ID card if you dont have one of the photo IDs accepted under the new law: a drivers license, U.S. passport, U.S. military or veterans ID card, or tribal enrollment card.
This is a pretty exclusive list, isnt 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 wont get you inside the voting booth.
The DMV ID looks exactly like a drivers 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 drivers license has been canceled under certain circumstances.
Be forewarned: Before you can get your DMV ID, youll need two documents to prove your ID to DMV. The requirements are the same as for a drivers 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 youre who you say you are, but DMV will accept both documents together.
The DMV documents list offers alternatives including tax, school and court papers. Whatever documents you bring, make sure they show your full name.
You also have to prove that you have a Social Security number, and that youre a North Carolina resident.
Starting in January, DMV will waive the fee for anyone who gets a photo ID for the purpose of voting.
Agency officials are still working out how they will decide who pays and who doesnt. The DMV website says prospective voters will have to bring proof of voter registration, but Howell said DMV has long been in the habit of helping people become voters when they apply for licenses or ID cards.
If theyre not a voter but they wish to apply for a voter ID card, they must register to vote at the DMV office, Howell said. We will be sure you fill out that application while you are at the DMV, and then we will send it to the Board of Elections.
As with drivers licenses, youll walk out of the DMV office with a piece of paper not your new voter ID card. It will arrive in the mail within 10 to 20 days, Howell said.
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