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NC colleges weigh campus cards for voter ID

Andrew Hudson   ||   Mar 01, 2019  ||   ,

Under a North Carolina bill approved last year, the university student ID card has been added to the list of acceptable forms of voter identification. But colleges and universities in the state are postponing signing an attestation document that would make their campus cards official voter IDs, as university officials try to interpret the law and its ramifications.

As reported by the Watauga Democrat, all North Carolina colleges and universities have until March 13 to sign an attestation form to the N.C. State Board of Elections, which states that university-issued ID cards can be used as a form of voter identification. If the colleges don’t sign the form by March 13, student IDs would not be eligible photo IDs in elections through 2020.

As of February 22, none of the state's universities have signed the form, according to the state election board. Some universities, including Appalachian State University, have expressed concerns about signing the form.

“Some aspects of what this attestation would legally bind our university Chancellor to could have significant outcomes, and it is critical for us to better understand what this could mean for ASU’s current and future students,” said Megan Hayes, Appalachian State University spokesperson, in a Watauga Democrat interview.

Under the bill approved in December 2018, acceptable forms of voter identification now include driver licenses, passports, military and veteran IDs, tribal enrollment cards, college student IDs, municipal and state employee IDs, or ID cards issued by DMV to non-drivers.

Session Law 2018-144 details the process that would lead to the approval of student IDs for voter identification. The law mandates that the “chancellor, president or registrar” of the university must submit a signed letter to the State Board of Elections “under penalty of perjury” that the institution's student ID cards are issued after an enrollment process that confirms the student’s Social Security number, citizenship status and birthdate.

Hayes told the Watauga Democrat that App State's current admissions and issuance process does not include student’s Social Security numbers, citizenship status or birth date.

The general counsel for the University of North Carolina system, said in a February 25th statement that students can currently receive university ID cards even if they’re not 18 years of age, not a U.S. citizen or don't have a Social Security number.

In a separate statement, UNC system spokesperson Jason Tyson said the administration is working to meet the law's requirements. Tyson also said that no direction has been given to any of the 17 UNC system chancellors regarding whether or not to sign the attestation.

In addition to public institutions, private colleges are also included in the student ID card law.

The North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities boasts 36 member institutions and some 90,000 students. It's a roster of campuses that includes the likes of Duke University and Wake Forest University. The NCICU has taken a similar, wait-and-see approach to the attestation.

NCICU officials held a webinar with the N.C. State Board of Elections to allow its university members to ask questions. The NCICU says that each of its universities will be deciding individually, but that all are coordinating together to make sure the pertinent questions are answered.

With the deadline fast approaching, N.C. Rep. Ray Russell (D-Boone) co-sponsored House Bill 167 that would extend the deadline for student ID voter attestation to September 15.

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