Democracy NC targets voter education
Published 10:08 pm Monday, January 20, 2014
With new voting laws set to go into effect for the coming elections, one organization is blanketing the state with information to ensure no voter gets left behind.
Democracy NC, a nonpartisan organization, has two main goals: to increase voter participation and decrease the amount of big money in politics. On Jan. 16, Democracy NC’s Eastern NC Field Organizer Jake Geller-Goad was on hand to talk to about the upcoming changes.
“This issue is not just for Democrats — it affects everyone,” said Beaufort County Democratic Party Chair Laurel Miller before introducing Geller-Goad to the crowd gathered at the Beaufort County Courthouse.
Geller-Goad came to the meeting armed with wallet-sized brochures detailing voting changes so that voters know what’s expected of them, and when.
Number one on the “New Rules for Voting” list was Voter ID. Geller-Goad stressed that North Carolina voters will not be required to show a valid ID to vote until 2016. However, in an effort to gauge how many voters are without valid ID, election workers will be asking for ID at the polls in 2014 and 2015. Poll workers can ask for it, but voters are not required to show it, this year or next.
When it comes to what kind of ID is considered valid, Geller-Goad described four types: a North Carolina driver’s license or and ID issued by the NC DMV; a U.S. military or veteran’s ID card; a U.S. passport; or an enrollment card from a federal-or N.C.-recognized tribe. Student IDs are not acceptable, he said, and an out of state driver’s license is only good for 90 days after a voter registers.
Using a series of databases — including registered voters and driver’s license holders — Democracy NC has identified hundreds of thousands of people statewide who are at risk for showing up to the polls in 2016 without a valid ID. According to Geller-Goad, some of them live in Beaufort County.
“There are 600 folks in Beaufort County who probably need some information about getting an ID,” he said.
With same-day voter registration now a thing of the past, Geller-Goad recommended registering to vote at least 25 days in advance of an election. According to the brochure, voters must register in their home county by April 11 to vote in the 2014 May primary; by Oct. 10 to vote in the November election. Geller-Goad also spoke about the voting rights of convicted felons: convicted felons, as long as they have served their sentence, including any probation or parole, can register to vote, like a new voter — no special documents are needed.
While the early voting window has been reduced to 10 days, Geller-Goad said that voters should call their county election board to find dates and hours.
“It would be good to use this election year wisely,” Geller-Goad said, adding that it’s important to get accurate information out early. “I imagine the average voter isn’t going to be able to know it all.”
For more information about valid IDs and how to get one, visit gotidnc.com.