Have IDthen vote

The 2016 primary is less than three weeks away.

While we don’t know who might end up victorious in the hotly contested school board or DA races, one thing is sure — If you plan to vote, you will need a photo ID.

Regardless of its merits, the fact remains that it is the law. If you want to vote, you must have the proper ID (There is an exception, which we will get to in a moment.)

When the law was passed in 2013, it was considered the strictest voter ID law in the nation. State officials said there were 300,000 registered voters who did not have the proper ID.

To its credit, the General Assembly in June added some exceptions. One of the changes allows those without a government-issued photo ID to vote by signing an affidavit and presenting alternate forms of ID.

Voters would have to swear that they could not obtain an appropriate form of photo ID to vote due to factors like lack of transportation, work schedules and family responsibilities. Voters would instead present an alternate form of identification, the last four digits of their Social Security number and date of birth.

The requirement, first approved by Republican elected officials in 2013 but eased somewhat last summer, makes North Carolina one of more than 30 states with some kind of voter ID requirement now in force. But the U.S. Justice Department, state NAACP and others challenged the requirement in a state with a history of racial discrimination and racially polarized voting.

The Division of Motor Vehicles is supposed to provide free identification cards for those who need them to vote. A decision last summer by the General Assembly also gives people claiming “reasonable impediment” to getting an ID the ability to vote without one as long as they fill out forms and provide other identifying information. Those impediments can include things like transportation problems, work schedules or disabilities.

To receive a free ID for voting, you need to take some documents to a Division of Motor Vehicles office and say, “I want to apply for a no-fee ID for voting.”

To get the ID, you must sign a sworn statement that you do not already have one of the acceptable IDs for voting: a NC driver’s license or DMV ID card, passport, US military or veterans card or tribal card. Lying is a Class I felony.

You must also be registered to vote or register when you apply. If you are registered,the DMV will verify your registration.

It is a good idea to bring your registration card with you.

If you are not registered to vote, you can register at the DMV. To do so, you must show documents with your full name that prove your identity, age and residence.

You must also provide a valid Social Security number.

If DMV can’t verify your SSN, you will need to provide a document that shows the number. The DMV lists the documents it accepts for each purpose. Some may serve more than one purpose.

The DMV may let you sign an affidavit if you lack documents or, for example, have one with a maiden name.

After you present the necessary documents, you will leave the DMV with a provisional ID. You should receive your photo ID within 6 weeks. If you’re treated rudely or have problems, call the number below.

For more information, contact Democracy North Carolina or call 888-OUR-VOTE or visit GotIDNC.org. You can also try VoterID.nc.gov.