How to Vote Early in NC without an ID

vote early in north carolina without ID

UPDATE: 4/26/2016: I discovered after the fact, that my provisional ballot was not counted, and was illegally discarded without sufficient cause. 

I just voted early in NC without an ID. Here are all the things I was surprised by.

You can vote early.

If you can vote early, why would you vote on any other day? As far as I can tell, there is no downside to voting early, unless you want to wait in long lines. If you’re planning to vote, vote early. Why doesn’t every state do this? It’s a no-brainer. It’s cheaper, easier, faster, less-stressful, etc. The only reason I can think of to not allow early voting is to cut down on phantom cost, or to tip the scales unfairly toward one party or another. Since it’s harder for many people to vote on one particular day, early voting makes voting more representative.

You can vote without an ID, but it’s really difficult.

I was told by a whole bunch of people that you can not vote in NC without an ID. This is not true. If you want a human-readable summary of the rules because you’re planning to vote without an ID, I recommend

If you are unaffiliated with a party, you can vote in either primary.

In NC, if you register as unaffiliated, you can vote in any primary you like. As far as I can tell, from a voting perspective, the dominant strategy is always to register as unaffiliated, then you can vote for whomever you want whenever you want.

To vote without ID, you have to know that you can use a “provisional ballot”.

While at the voting center, I was told twice by two different people that I could not vote because I didn’t have an ID. When I asked whether I could submit a provisional ballot (just as good as a real ballot) they said yes and sent me somewhere special to fill out the provisional ballot paperwork. I can imagine most people being discouraged at one of the first two rejections and not continuing on. I was armed the knowledge that voting without an ID is allowed, so I was able to make it through. The attendants tried really hard to serve me nicely, but despite their best efforts, I felt like I was doing something wrong the entire time.

Provisional ballots *are* counted on voting day.

Provisional ballots are counted on voting day. In fact, they’re actually counted before voting day, but tallied up with the regular votes on voting day. You also get an ID you can use to call in to confirm that your vote was counted, so you get that extra confidence that nothing shady is going on.

Parking was easy, and lines were short.

I literally parked in front of the polling center. A confident spitter, could have reached my car from the door. I was inside the no campaigning radius, which was an additional plus, because I’m pretty sick of having people tell me who to vote for.

Voting should be done online

The one overwhelming slap-in-the-face part of voting that is broken is the fact that it can’t be done online. There was no part of this process that required my physical presence to be completed. Taking time to drive somewhere and wait in line was a colossal waste of time, cost, and effort. If the IRS can figure out how to collect taxes online, then the bureau of voting (or whatever it’s called) should be able to figure out how to accept votes online.

UPDATE: The rest of this piece was written on 4/26/2016 after i discovered that my vote wasn’t counted.

Result: My vote wasn’t counted

I just logged in to check the status of my provisional ballot and found that my vote was in fact not counted. There was no information provided other than the statement “ID NOT PROVIDED”. There was no recourse available to me, and there was no way to prevent this from happening. Provisional ballots can not even be audited until 10 days after the election, so there was no way that I could have known that my ballot would not be accepted until after it was too late. Because of the painstaking lengths I went to to make sure that my ballot was legal and that my ballot deserved to be counted, I am left with no other conclusion than there is a conspiracy to prevent ballots from being counted from people without identification. This is the thing that everyone is afraid is happening, and I can attest as one data point that it is in fact happening. People without ID’s are being disenfranchised. I am so angry, but there is no outlet for my anger.

If you don’t see your ballot go into the machine, then it probably doesn’t count.

I am left with only one piece of guidance here. This is what I now believe: If you don’t see you vote go into the machine, then, sadly, it probably will not be counted. The machine is used for tallying votes, and the rest of the votes are processed by volunteers who have no incentive to count your vote. Because you have no recourse and no representation, it’s silly to think that you will have a voice.

One Reply to “How to Vote Early in NC without an ID”

  1. Tom,

    As I mentioned several weeks ago, I believe that when you cast a provisional ballot you are still expected to provide ID sometime in the next ten days at the County Elections Office. Unfortunately, nobody at that office–where I believe you went to vote–told you that you needed to come back with an ID or a utility bill or some other documentation. This is, in effect, no better than their two-time effort to refuse to give you a ballot.

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