Frequently Asked Questions


When do voters have to start showing Photo ID?

Effective on January 1, 2016, most voters will need to show acceptable photo ID to vote in person at the polls. To learn more about the acceptable forms of photo ID, please click here. No voter will be turned away from the polls because he or she lacks acceptable photo ID.

What forms of Photo ID are acceptable for voting?

The acceptable forms of photo ID are as follows:

      1. A drivers license issued by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles including a learner's permit or a provisional license. These cards may be expired up to four (4) years before they are presented for voting.
      2. A state identification card issued by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles. This card may be expired up to four (4) years before it is presented for voting.
      3. A United States passport (unexpired), including both the passport book and passport card, issued by the United States Department of State.
      4. A United States Military ID Card issued by the United States Department of Defense, including those issued to dependents, retired military personnel, or civilians. A Military ID bearing an expiration date must be unexpired, but Military ID cards without an expiration date are also acceptable.
      5. A Veterans ID Card issued by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. A Veterans ID card bearing an expiration date must be unexpired, but Veterans ID cards without an expiration date are also acceptable.
      6. A tribal enrollment card issued by a federally-recognized tribe. If the card bears an expiration date, it must be unexpired.  If it does not bear an expiration date, it must bear a printed issuance date that is not older than eight (8) years before it is presented for voting.
      7. A tribal enrollment card issued by a state-recognized tribe, provided that it has been approved by the State Board of Elections.  This card must be unexpired.
      8. A drivers license or non-operators identification card issued by another state, the District of Columbia, or a territory or commonwealth of the United States, but only if the voter registered to vote within ninety (90) days of the election. This card must be unexpired.

      No voter will be turned away from the polls because he or she lacks acceptable photo ID.

      What options are available to voters who do not present Photo ID?

      No voter will be turned away from the polls because they lack acceptable photo ID. The following voting options are available for individuals without acceptable photo ID:

      Declaration of Reasonable Impediment
      Voters who are unable to obtain an acceptable photo ID due to a reasonable impediment may still vote a provisional ballot at the polls. (Examples of a reasonable impediment include but are not limited to the lack of proper documents, family obligations, transportation problems, work schedule, illness or disability, among other reasonable impediments faced by the voter.) 

      Voters must also:

      1. Sign a declaration describing their impediment; and
      2. Provide their date of birth and last four digits of their Social Security number, or present their current voter registration card or a copy of an acceptable document bearing their name and address.  (Acceptable documents include a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government-issued document.)  

      The provisional ballot will be counted when the information on the declaration is verified and all other eligibility requirements are met.

      Absentee By-Mail Voting
      Photo ID is not required for a mail-in absentee ballot.  Absentee Ballot Request Forms are available online, at the county board of elections and at all one-stop early voting locations.
      Request forms must be received by the county board of elections by 5:00 p.m. on the Tuesday before the date of the election.

      Completed absentee ballots must be returned to the county board of elections by 5:00 p.m. on Election Day, or post-marked by Election Day and received by the county board of elections no later than by 5:00 p.m. three days after the election.

      Persons Who Are Qualified to Vote Curbside
      Persons who travel to a voting place (on Election Day or during Early Voting), but who, due to age or physical disability, are unable to enter the voting enclosure without physical assistance, will be permitted to vote from a vehicle. Such persons must present either an acceptable photo ID or an acceptable document showing his or her name and address. (Acceptable documents include a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government-issued document.)

      Subsequent Presentation of Acceptable Photo ID
      Voters who have access to an acceptable form of photo ID but do not present it at the polling site may vote a provisional ballot and later present an acceptable form of photo ID to an election official at the county board of elections office. The deadline for presenting the photo ID will be provided to the voter when he or she casts the provisional ballot.  The provisional ballot will be counted if the voter presents acceptable photo ID by the deadline and all other eligibility requirements are met.
      Alternatively, a voter may leave the voting site to retrieve their photo ID and return to the polls before closing time to cast a regular ballot.

      Voters over the age of 70
      Voters who are 70 years of age or older may use any acceptable photo ID that has been expired for any length of time, provided the photo ID expired after their 70th birthday.

      Natural Disaster
      Voters will not be required to show photo ID if the voter declares that he or she is a victim of a natural disaster that occurred within 60 days of the election date. The voter must reside in a county that has officially been declared a natural disaster area by either the Governor of North Carolina or the President of the United States.

      Religious Objection
      Voters who have a religious objection to being photographed may file a declaration with their county board of elections and will not be required to present photo ID. If a voterdoes not file a declaration at least twenty-five (25) days before the election, he or she may cast a provisional ballot. The ballot will be counted if the voter later appears in person at the county board of elections to execute the declaration and provides an acceptable document showing the voter's name and address. (Acceptable documents include a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or other government-issued document.)  The deadline for signing the declaration will be provided to the voter when he or she casts a provisional ballot.

      Help is available if you have special needs or circumstances, are having difficulty getting the documents you need, or can't get to a DMV office. To learn more, please contact the North Carolina State Board of Elections Voter Outreach Team at (866) 522-4723 or email VoterOutreach.sboe@ncsbe.gov.

      Does my Photo ID have to be unexpired?

      The expiration requirements and exceptions are as follows:

      Voters over the age of 70
      Voters who are 70 years of age or older may use any acceptable photo ID that has been expired for any length of time, provided the photo ID expired after their 70th birthday.

      North Carolina DMV-issued Photo ID
      Any card issued by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles, including a driver's license, non-operator's identification card, learner's permit, or provisional license is acceptable. The card may be expired no more than four (4) years before it is presented for voting.

      U.S. Passport
      U.S. passport books and passport cards issued by the U.S. Department of State must be unexpired.

      Tribal Enrollment Card
      Federally-recognized tribes: Tribal enrollment cards issued by federally-recognized tribes must be unexpired, if the photo ID contains a printed expiration date. If the tribal enrollment card does not contain a printed expiration date, it shall be acceptable if it has a printed issuance date that is no more than eight years before it is presented for voting.

      State-recognized tribes: Tribal enrollment cards issued by a tribe recognized by North Carolina and approved by the State Board of Elections must be unexpired.

      U.S. Military ID Card and U.S. Veterans ID Card
      U.S. Military ID Cards issued by the U.S. Department of Defense and Veterans ID Cards issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs must be unexpired if the card has an expiration date, but such cards without expiration dates are also acceptable.

      Do I need Photo ID to vote mail-in absentee?

      No. Voters who vote by mail-in absentee ballot are not required to show a photo ID.

      Does the address on my Photo ID have to match the address on my voter registration record?

      No.

      Does the name on my Photo ID have to match the name on my voter registration record?

      The name appearing on the photo ID must be the same or substantially equivalent to the name on the voter's registration record.  Acceptable differences include, but are not limited to the following:

      • Omission of one or more parts of the name;
      • Use of a variation or nickname rather than a formal name;
      • Use of an initial in place of one or more parts of a given name;
      • Use of a former name, including maiden names, or a variation that includes or omits a hyphenation;
      • Ordering of names; or,
      • Variation in spelling or typographical errors.

      What if I have Photo ID, but it is faded or damaged?

      If you are concerned that your photo ID may be faded or damaged such that an election official will have difficulty evaluating the printed name, photo, or issuance/expiration date, you may request a duplicate or replacement photo ID.  The DMV allows customers to request a duplicate or replacement card on the DMV website or in person at a DMV driver's license office.

      What if I have been issued a photo ID by the DMV, but it was lost or stolen?

      The easiest way to obtain a new copy of your driver's license or ID card from the DMV is to request a duplicate on the DMV website, here.  Note: you may only request a duplicate copy of a current and unexpired license or ID card, and you must pay a fee of $10.  If you require a free DMV ID card, you must apply in person at the DMV.  The online duplicate request service is not available if you have a suspended license or have an outstanding debt with DMV, and is not available for Commercial Driver Licenses with a P or S endorsement.

      Additionally, a voter in this situation may execute a Declaration of Reasonable Impediment and vote a provisional ballot, or vote by mail-in absentee.

      What if I have a Photo ID, but did not bring it with me?

      No one will be denied the opportunity to vote for lack of a photo ID.

      Voters who have access to an acceptable form of photo ID but do not present it at the polling site may vote a provisional ballot and later present an acceptable form of photo ID to an election official at the county board of elections office. The deadline for presenting the photo ID will be provided to the voter when he or she casts a provisional ballot.  The provisional ballot will be counted if the photo ID and all other eligibility requirements are met.

      Alternatively, a voter may leave the voting site to retrieve their photo ID and return to the polls before closing time to cast a regular ballot.

      Persons who seek to vote at a one-stop early voting site prior to the deadline for requesting absentee ballots may complete the State Absentee Ballot Request Form.

      The deadline for requesting an absentee ballot is 5:00 p.m. on the Tuesday before the date of the election. Completed ballots must be received by the county board of elections by 5:00 p.m. on Election Day or postmarked no later than Election Day and received by the county board of elections no later than three days after the election.  (Voters should note that the post office does not automatically affix postmarks to all mailings.  Voters may request a postal clerk to apply a legible postmark.)
      To learn more about how to cast an absentee ballot by-mail, visit here.

      No one will be denied the opportunity to vote for lack of a photo ID.

      Where can I get a free Photo ID card for voting purposes?

      1. Your local DMV driver's license office or DMV mobile unit can issue you a free NC identification card if you do not have acceptable photo ID for voting. You may find a DMV near you by using the DMV locator or view DMV's mobile unit schedule here.

        You will have the opportunity to become an organ donor when you obtain your photo ID.  To learn more about this program or to register online, please visit the Donate Life website.

      Who qualifies for a free Photo ID?

      North Carolina residents who attest they do not have any of the acceptable forms of photo ID for voting may qualify to obtain a free DMV-issued photo ID card.  Applicants for a free DMV-issued photo ID card must be registered to vote or must register to vote at the DMV when they apply for their photo ID.  Applicants must also be able to provide their Social Security number and proof of their age, identity, and residency.  Click here to see a list of required documents, or contact the State Board of Elections' Voter Outreach Team at VoterOutreach.sboe@ncsbe.gov for assistance.

      Residents of the State who are legally blind, who are at least 70 years old, who are homeless, or who have been issued a driver's license which has subsequently been cancelled as a result of a physical or mental disability or disease are eligible to receive a free DMV-issued photo ID card.

      What documents must I take to the DMV to get a free Photo ID card for voting purposes?

      The DMV requires that certain documents be presented before it will issue a photo ID. The requirements include:

      1. Two documents that prove your age and identity. Examples: a birth certificate, court documents, or tax forms.
      2. A valid social security number. A voter's Social Security card is not required unless the DMV is unable to validate the number provided by the voter.
      3. One document to prove your North Carolina residency. Examples: a lease, voter registration card, or utility bill. If you do not have one of these documents, you may be able to complete an affidavit of residency at the DMV.

      Click here to see a list of required documents or contact the State Board of Elections' Voter Outreach Team for assistance at VoterOutreach.sboe@ncsbe.gov.

      What if I don’t have a birth certificate or marriage license?

      You may obtain a free certified copy of your North Carolina birth or marriage certificate for the purpose of obtaining acceptable photo ID for voting.

      If you were born or married in North Carolina, your birth or marriage certificate may be on file with the Vital Records Branch of the Division of Public Health and/or with the Register of Deeds in the county in which you were born or married. Complete the application available here on the Vital Records website. A copy of the requestor's photo ID may need to accompany the application, so you may need to have a close family member or other authorized representative complete the application on your behalf.  If you do not have close family available, please contact the Voter Outreach Team at (866) 522-4723 or VoterOutreach.sboe@ncsbe.gov. Staff will try to match you with a volunteer attorney to assist free of charge.

      The ID requirements to obtain a birth or marriage certificate for voting purposes from the state's Vital Records Branch are not as stringent as those of the DMV to obtain a driver's license or identification card. Tax documents, utility bills, pay stubs, and even a car registration or title are examples of documents that may be accepted. For a complete explanation of the Vital Records ID requirement, please click here.

      If you were born or married out-of-state, you must contact that state's vital records office to obtain a birth or marriage certificate. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control maintains a website (available by clicking here) of information to help you contact the proper agency in all fifty states.  This information is also available in a printable version here.

      Additionally, a voter in this situation may execute a Declaration of Reasonable Impediment and vote a provisional ballot, or vote by mail-in absentee. If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact the Voter Outreach Team at (866) 522-4723 or VoterOutreach.sboe@ncsbe.gov.

      How can I get a copy of my birth certificate or marriage license from a state other than North Carolina?

      The U.S. Centers for Disease Control maintains a website (available by clicking here) containing information to help you contact the proper agency in each state. This information is also available in a printable version here.  If you have any questions, please contact the Voter Outreach Team at (866) 522-4723 or VoterOutreach.sboe@ncsbe.gov.

      Won't I have to show a Photo ID to get a copy of my birth certificate or marriage license?

      Identification of the person requesting the copy of the certificate may be required.  In this event, you may ask a close family member or an authorized representative (such as an attorney) to make the request on your behalf.   If you do not have close family available, please contact the Voter Outreach Team at (866) 522-4723 or VoterOutreach.sboe@ncsbe.gov. Staff will try to match you with a volunteer attorney who can assist free of charge.

      The identification requirements to obtain a North Carolina birth or marriage certificate from the Vital Records Branch are not as stringent as those of the DMV to obtain a driver's license or identification card. Tax documents, utility bills, pay stubs, and even a car registration or title are examples of documents that can be accepted. For a complete explanation of the Vital Records ID requirement, please click here.

      Additionally, a voter in this situation may execute a Declaration of Reasonable Impediment and vote a provisional ballot, or vote by mail-in absentee.

      How can I get copies of court records?

      Contact the Clerk of Court in the county with jurisdiction over your court case. A link to the Administrative Office of the Courts website is here. Click on the appropriate county for contact information for the clerk.

      Additionally, a voter who is unable to obtain an acceptable photo ID because he or she lacks documents may execute a Declaration of Reasonable Impediment and vote a provisional ballot, or vote by mail-in absentee.

      What if I can't afford the transportation costs?

      The State Board of Elections is working with transportation providers throughout North Carolina to provide transportation to registered voters who need assistance obtaining a free Photo ID card from the DMV or obtaining supporting documentation, such as a birth or marriage certificate. Please click here to find a local transportation provider that can provide transportation or contact the Voter Outreach Team at VoterOutreach.sboe@ncsbe.gov for more assistance.

      Additionally, a voter in this situation may execute a Declaration of Reasonable Impediment and vote a provisional ballot, or vote by mail-in absentee.

      What if I am homebound and am unable to get to the DMV?

      If you have a medical condition and are unable to get to the DMV to obtain a free Photo ID card for voting purposes, please bear in mind that mail-in absentee voters and curbside voters are not required to show photo ID. To learn more about mail-in absentee voting, click here.

      You may also be able to schedule a home visit from the DMV. If you qualify, DMV will send a Field Inspector to your home to assist you with obtaining an ID card. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, please contact your local DMV office.

      Additionally, a voter in this situation may execute a Declaration of Reasonable Impediment and vote a provisional ballot, or vote by mail-in absentee.

      How do I get a United States Passport?

      You may learn about applying for a United States Passport by visiting the United States Department of State's website by clicking here.

      I am not sure that I am registered to vote. How can I determine whether I am registered?

      Please click here to determine whether you are registered to vote and to find your assigned precinct and polling location.

      Who can I contact if I have questions about the photo ID requirements and exceptions?

      Please call the North Carolina State Board of Elections Voter Outreach Team at (866) 522-4723 or email VoterOutreach.sboe@ncsbe.gov.