North Carolina

North Carolina asks you to show a photo ID to vote in person. You also need to provide a copy of your ID to vote by mail.

If you can’t get an accepted photo ID, there is another way to confirm your identity.

Important Updates

The North Carolina Supreme Court reinstated the state’s voter ID law in April 2023. It was previously blocked due to ongoing lawsuits.

As a result, photo ID is now in effect for North Carolina voters. Voters will be asked to show ID for the 2024 elections and all others moving forward.

North Carolina ID Requirements for Voting In Person

North Carolina requests photo ID to vote in person. You can vote without a photo ID if you sign an ID exception form. 

Accepted Photo IDs

You can cast a regular ballot if you present one of the following IDs. 

Ok if expired up to 1 year (longer after 65th birthday): 

  • North Carolina driver license
  • North Carolina state ID card (also called a non operators ID)
  • US passport or passport card 
  • North Carolina voter ID card issued by your county 
  • North Carolina student identification approved by the NC State Board of Elections (list available here)
  • Employee ID issued by North Carolina state or local government or charter school approved by the NC State Board of Elections. (list available here)
  • Out-of-state driver’s license or ID card (only if you have registered to vote in North Carolina within 90 days of an election)

No expiration date required: 

  • Military identification  
  • Veterans Health ID card issued by US Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Tribal enrollment card issued by a tribe recognized by NC state or federal government

Registered voters without ID can still vote by signing a form. See the FAQ “What if I don’t have the right ID to vote in North Carolina?” for more info!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. Any registered voter will be able to get one of two types of free ID:

  1. A free state ID card from the NC DMV
    If you do not have an accepted photo ID, you can get one for free from the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV).
  2. Request a voter photo ID card from your County Board of Elections
    To receive a free voter photo ID card, you will need to provide your name, date of birth and the last four digits of your Social Security number. The voter photo ID card can only be used for voting purposes. It will have an expiration date ten years from the day it is issued. It will count as an accepted form of ID until one year past the expiration date. If you change your name or address, you can request a free replacement voter photo ID card.

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All voters will be allowed to vote with or without a photo ID. 

There are three exceptions to the requirement that all North Carolina voters must present an accepted ID to vote in person:

1. Reasonable Impediment: 

If you are unable to get a photo ID due to one of the following reasons you can sign a Reasonable Impediment Declaration and vote a provisional ballot

  • Lack of transportation
  • Disability or illness
  • You don’t have your birth certificate or other documents required to obtain an ID
  • Work schedule
  • Family responsibilities
  • Lost or stolen photo ID
  • You applied for photo ID but have not received it yet
  • Other: you may write in another reason and the county board of elections will decide whether to accept it

2. Religious Objection

If you are unable to get a photo ID because you have a religious objection to being photographed, you may sign an affidavit and then vote a provisional ballot.

3. Natural Disaster

If you cannot provide a photo ID because you were the victim of a natural disaster within 100 days before Election Day (as declared by the Governor of North Carolina or the President of the United States), you may sign an affidavit and then vote a provisional ballot.

If you meet one of these reasons, you will be permitted to complete an ID Exception Form and vote a provisional ballot.

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All voters will be allowed to vote with or without a photo ID. 

If you do not show an accepted ID, you may still vote in one of two ways:

  1. Vote a provisional ballot and complete an ID Exception Form, or 
  2. Vote with a provisional ballot and return to your county board of elections office with your photo ID by the day before the county canvass. (For municipal elections in September and October, this deadline is the Monday following Election Day. For all other elections, the deadline is the second Thursday following Election Day.)

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You must present a physical ID to vote in North Carolina. You cannot use an image, copy, or digital ID when you are voting in person. 

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Address  

The address on your photo ID does not have to match your address on your voter registration.

Name

The name on your photo ID must be the same as or “substantially equivalent” to the name on your voter registration record. 

Accepted differences between the name on your ID and on your voter registration record include:

  • Omission or inclusion of one or more parts of your name (e.g. Mary Beth Smith versus Beth Smith, or Patrick Todd Jackson, Jr. versus Patrick Todd Jackson, or Maria Guzman-Santana versus Maria Guzman)
  • Nickname rather than a formal name (e.g. Bill versus William, or Sue versus Susanne)
  • An initial in place of one or more parts of a name (e.g. A.B. Sanchez versus Aaron B. Sanchez)
  • A former name, including a maiden name (e.g. Emily Jones versus Emily Gibson)
  • A variation that includes or omits a hyphen (e.g. Chantell D. Jacobson-Smith versus Chantell D. Jacobson or Chantell D. Jacobson Smith)
  • A variation that includes or omits an accent (e.g. José Muñoz versus Jose Munoz)
  • A variation that includes or omits an apostrophe (e.g. Andrea D’Antonio versus Andrea Dantonio)
  • Different ordering of names (e.g. Maria Eva Garcia Lopez versus Maria E. Lopez-Garcia)
  • Variation in spelling (e.g. Dennis McCarthy versus Denis McCarthy, or Aarav Robertson versus Aarav Robertsson)

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You do not need a “REAL ID” to vote in North Carolina.

REAL ID is a set of national security standards for states to follow when they issue driver’s licenses and state ID cards. Your ID will show a star if it meets REAL ID standards. 

Applying for a REAL ID requires you to appear in person with a variety of documents to prove your identity. 

Visit the North Carolina DMV to find out exactly what is required to get a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or state ID card.

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North Carolina ID Requirements for Voting by Mail

Any registered voter can request to vote by mail in North Carolina. You don’t have to give a reason why you can’t vote in person. 

Requesting an Absentee Ballot 

A request for an absentee ballot can be submitted online or via mail. If a voter has an illness or or physical disability that is expected to last the remainder of the calendar year, the voter may request to vote by mail-in absentee ballot for all of the primaries and elections held during that calendar year by submitting a written request.

You must provide your date of birth and one of the following to verify your identity:

  • North Carolina driver license number
  • North Carolina state ID card number
  • Last four digits of your Social Security number.

Returning an Absentee Ballot 

You are required to provide a photocopy of one of the accepted forms of photo ID inside the “photo ID envelope”.

If you do not have an accepted photo ID due to religious objection, natural disaster or reasonable impediment (see above regarding exceptions to NC’s voter ID law), you will be permitted to sign an ID Exception Form instead.

If you do have an accepted photo ID but are not able to attach a copy of it, you will also be permitted to sign an ID Exception Form.

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Frequently Asked Questions

You can track the status of your absentee ballot and whether it has been received and accepted online.

If there are any problems with your absentee ballot envelope, the county board of elections must inform you and provide you with a cure certification to sign a new ballot.

Your cure certification must be received by the county board of elections by 5 p.m. the day before the county canvass. The cure certification may be submitted to the county board office by fax, email, in person, or by mail or commercial carrier. If you go in person to the county board office, you can also receive and complete a cure certification.

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