Primary voter registration deadline is Feb. 19


By Nicholas Elmes - nelmes@civitasmedia.com



North Carolina voters wishing to have a say in the March 15 primary need to register by Feb. 19 in order to participate.

Registered voters also have until Feb. 19 to provide an update (name change, address change within the county, or change in party affiliation) to an existing registration; this may be accomplished by filling out a registration form with the updated information.

Stokes County Board of Elections Director Jason Perry said registrations postmarked by Feb. 19 would be considered timely, noting that new registrations may be faxed by Feb. 19, but the but the Board of Elections needs the original form by Feb. 24 or the individual will not be registered

He said 17-year-old who will be 18 by the Nov. 8 general election may vote in the primary.

“A voter can check his or her registration status by visiting www.co.stokes.nc.us/vote and clicking on ‘Check Registration/Polling Place/Sample Ballot’ or by contacting the office,” said Perry.

He added that absentee mail-in voting for the primary election is currently ongoing.

“A registered voter must complete and sign an Absentee Ballot Request Form, or have a near relative complete and sign the form on the voter’s behalf,” said Perry. “The request form is available at www.co.stokes.nc.us/vote, or by contacting the Board of Elections office at 593-2409 or stokes.boe@ncsbe.gov. A request – i.e. a handwritten note – made on something other than the specific form cannot be accepted. The form should be fully completed, including identification number of the voter (NC License or DMV-issued ID, or last 4 digits of Social Security Number). The photo ID requirement does not pertain to absentee mail-in voters, but the number mentioned above does have to be written on the form.”

Perry said when returning the absentee ballot, a voter should ensure that the certification that’s located on the back of the return envelope has been completed. This certification consists of the voter’s signature, and the signatures and street addresses of two witnesses (or one witness who is a notary public).

He said voters had until March 8 to request an absentee ballot and until march 15 to return the ballot and application.

Perry added that most voters would be asked for a photo ID when voting in the primary this year.

“Exceptions include voters who are unable to obtain acceptable photo ID, have a religious objection to being photographed, or are victims of a natural disaster,” he said. “Acceptable Photo IDs are a NC Driver’s License or DMV-issued Identification Card (expired up to four years), US Passport or Passport Card (unexpired), Military ID Card or Veterans Affairs ID Card (unexpired, if there is an expiration date), and certain Tribal Enrollment Cards.”

Perry noted that voters who are 70 years of age or older may use any acceptable photo ID that has been expired for any length of time, as long as the photo ID expired after their 70th birthday.

“The address on the photo ID does not have to match the address on the individual’s voter registration record,” he said. “The name on the ID and registration record does not have to be the same, but it must be substantially equivalent.”

Perry said voters who are unable to obtain one of the forms of ID may still vote if their inability is due to a reasonable impediment like a lost or stolen ID, lack of transportation, illness or disability, a lack of proper documents to obtain ID, or work schedule.

“These voters may vote a provisional ballot after completing a Reasonable Impediment Declaration and providing an alternate form of identification or the last four digits of their social security number and their date of birth,” said Perry. “Alternate forms of ID include voter registration card or a current utility bill, paycheck, government check, bank statement, or other government document bearing the voter’s name and current address. Individuals who vote via curbside voting (the process of voting from a vehicle due to age or physical disability at a one-stop site or Election Day polling place) also do not have to show a photo ID. They can present one of the alternative forms of ID.”

He said an individual who has a photo ID but does not bring it to the one-stop site or Election Day polling place can either leave the voting site and return before closing with the photo ID, vote a provisional ballot and later present an acceptable form of photo ID to an election official at the county board of elections office, or, for one-stop voters, complete an absentee request form (by March 8 deadline) at the one-stop site in order to vote by mail instead.

“Free ID cards for state residents who attest they do not have acceptable photo ID are available from the NC DMV,” said Perry. “For assistance with obtaining acceptable photo identification for voting or for more information on exceptions and alternative voting options, contact the NC State Board of Elections voter outreach team toll-free at 1-866-522-4723 or visit www.VoterID.nc.gov. No one will be denied the opportunity to vote for lack of a photo ID.”

Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.

By Nicholas Elmes

nelmes@civitasmedia.com

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