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Student IDs A Point Of Contention In Voter ID Bill


A federal appeals court ruled two years ago that North Carolina's previous voter ID law was created with "discriminatory intent" against minority voters. 

Now the state is trying again.

After the state's voters approved a constitutional amendment requiring photo ID earlier this month, the Republican legislature unveiled last week a draft bill that does allow more IDs than the 2013 law.

According to the draft, the bill will let people use a driver's license, a U.S. passport, a military ID or veteran's ID, a tribal ID card and a newly-created ID card available at local boards of elections offices. 

The bill would allow students to use IDs from the University of North Carolina system, but would not allow student IDs from community colleges or private schools such as Wake Forest University or Duke University.

A legislative committee met Monday morning in Raleigh, with student ideas taking up much of the discussion. The full legislature returns Tuesday.

State Rep. David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican, co-chairs the joint legislative oversight committee that discussed the draft bill.

"This is a fresh bill," Lewis said. "It's different from 2013, and we are very open to improving this."

Hope Williams is president of the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, which represents 36 colleges and universities in the state. She said it would be highly unusual to accept public school IDs and not IDs from private schools.

"There only two states in the nation – Indiana and Georgia- that accept public sector IDs and not private college IDs,” she said.

Mary Shuping, director of government relations for North Carolina Community Colleges, also lobbied for their students to be able to use their IDs. But she said there is no uniform policy across the state for what documents are required to get a community college ID.

"Some colleges are going to ask for proof of identity such as a driver’s license of military ID or a passport," she said. "Other colleges may just ask if you are registered and you have paid your tuition, and a current class schedule and an ID will be issued.”

Democrats also want people to be able to use other state government IDs, such as employee ID cards. 

Voters without an ID would be allowed to cast a provisional ballot.

Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.