The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

February 7, 2014

Big voting changes begin with new year

Thursday, February 6, 2014 — RALEIGH –- When the calendar changed to 2014, a whole host of voting and election laws changed with it. The sweeping elections overhaul bill passed and signed into law last year made many dramatic changes to the way we conduct campaigns and elections in North Carolina, and the bulk of those changes went into effect as of Jan. 1.

The provision that always gets the most attention, and attracts the most controversy, is the voter ID requirement. But the law does much more than that.

The measure also cuts a week off early voting, though counties are required to offer the same number of hours of early voting in 2014 as they did in 2010. Additionally, it eliminates same-day registration, ends public financing as an option for judicial candidates, raises contribution limits for candidates from $4,000 to $5,000, weakens some campaign finance disclosure requirements and more.

However, it is important to remember that North Carolinians will not have to show a picture ID at the polls until 2016. Beginning this year voters will be made aware of the new requirement when they go vote, but will not be required to provide a photo ID in order to cast a ballot in 2014.

For voters who do not have an acceptable ID under the new law, they can get a free ID card from the DMV beginning this year.

A full list of acceptable IDs for 2016 can be found online at, but the list generally includes a North Carolina driver’s license or special ID card for non-drivers (provided free by the state if you don’t have any other form of ID), U.S. passport, U.S. military or veterans ID card or a tribal card from a federally or state recognized tribe. An out-of-state driver’s license will also be acceptable in 2016, but only if you registered to vote within 90 days of the election.

The list of IDs is pretty limited in scope, and does not include any form of school ID. While nobody will be required to show an ID at the polls in 2014, voters are encouraged to verify that they do possess an acceptable ID prior to 2016.

Another aspect of the law that may cause some confusion in 2014 is the elimination of same-day voter registration. For the past several years, North Carolinians have been able to register to vote and cast a ballot on the same day during the early voting period. But under the new law, all voters must be registered 25 days before the election in order to be eligible to vote.

So, if you wish to vote in the May 6 primary this year, you absolutely must be registered to vote in your current location by April 11.

Voters may notice a change on their ballot this year as a result of the new law, as well, because straight-ticket voting will no longer be an option in North Carolina. That means voters will no longer be able to check one box to vote for all candidates of a single party, but must now mark the ballot for each individual race they wish to vote in.   

There are many other significant changes going into effect with the new elections overhaul law as well, which makes it extremely important that voters get educated before heading to the polls in 2014.

The voting experience is going to be much different in North Carolina moving forward, and every single voter must be prepared to ensure their ballot is counted and their voice is heard.

Brent Laurenz is executive director of the N.C. Center for Voter Education and a contributor to TheVoter He can be contacted at

Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • Do White Castle prices tell us anything about the minimum wage?

    NEW YORK - Economists love hamburgers. Specifically fast-food burgers. This is partly because all right-thinking human beings love ground meat on a bun, but it's also because the sandwich makes a handy yardstick for international financial comparisons. The ingredients and labor involved in preparing a Big Mac are pretty much the same no matter where you are in the world, so by looking at how many hours of toiling it takes a worker to earn enough to purchase one, you can get a sense of how wages really stack up across countries. The Economist famously created the Big Mac index in 1986 to see which currencies were overvalued. It started as a joke. Now, as the magazine proudly notes, it's a subject of academic study.

    April 22, 2014

  • Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?

    WASHINGTON - What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years.

    April 22, 2014

  • Doug Creamer All in the Family

    We had a family get-together at my brother’s house on Easter Sunday. It’s hard to get our family together because we are spread out, especially when you consider nieces and nephews. My parents and siblings all made the gathering this year. Some of my nieces and nephews are far away, but they all remember gathering at my brother’s house for the holidays. Easter is known for the Jell-O eggs and the famous Easter egg hunt.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 19, 2014

  • The case for separate beds

    WASHINGTON - The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 19, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Obama's equal pay exaggeration leads us all into danger

    The president's claims of national shame over gender-based pay inequity spring from distorted calculations, as well as some convenient political math.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teens trading naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 12, 2014

  • Brent Laurenz If you want to vote in primary, you need to register to vote now

    RALEIGH – North Carolina voters will head to the polls on May 6 this year to cast ballots in important primary elections across the state.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scott Mooneyham Heeding the voter fraud call in N.C.

    RALEIGH – Legislators found the findings outrageous.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Roots

    I took a few minutes over the weekend to enjoy our yard and the arrival of spring. There seems to be so much work that needs to be done, it is hard to decide what to do first. I am excited that I got to run my tiller through the garden. I didn’t go very deep, but I did at least break up the soil. I have a couple of raised beds and the soil in them was in very good shape. I didn’t plant my peas and now after the big rain we got on Monday I realize that I missed a window of opportunity.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content