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Voter ID Bill Could Mean More Restrictions in Local Elections

Smithsonian Institute

Editor's Note:  This article was corrected to reflect the Supreme Court's action regarding the Voting Rights Act. 

The newly passed Voter ID Bill stands to change the nature of Election Days across the state. Strict voter ID requirements, prohibition of provisional ballots, the elimination of same-day registration and a shortened early voting period mean North Carolinians will have to be more vigilant about the rules to cast their ballots. And that's not necessarily all--we could see changes at the local level, too.

In June, The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which required states with histories of voter discrimination—including North Carolina—to clear any new election law changes with the federal government. Myrna Perez, deputy director of New York’s Brennan Center for Justice, says that as a result, North Carolinians could see unexpected changes in voting at the municipal level.

"For example, last-minute changes in polling locations, last-minute cancelations of elections, the switch from single-member districts to at-large elections. And a switch from a body that had its members elected to members that are now appointed."

Perez says that because such changes are less likely than statewide legislation to receive media attention, they could catch many by surprise. She says North Carolinians can preserve their right to vote by being mindful of how new laws work and helping fellow voters to get their IDs, get to the polls and understand all restrictions.