A recent blog post published by a liberal organization outlines the experiences of two students who sought to acquire free state-issued voter photo IDs from the NC DMV. Alyssa Davis and Evelyn Bradley, both of whom are summer interns for Democracy NC, attend North Carolina colleges as out-of-state students – and now claim they were unable to obtain free voter ID cards.
But a closer look shows this is just a political stunt that fails to make its point.
According to Democracy NC’s blog posts, when Alyssa Davis visited the DMV, she was told she would have to give up her Texas driver’s license in order to qualify for a free state-issued photo ID. Evelyn Bradley, who also has an active out-of-state license, supposedly faced obstacles when she tried to obtain a free NC photo ID. Davis finally “succumbed” and paid $10 for an ID while retaining her Texas driver’s license; Bradley did not get a free ID.
The blog articles clearly state that the reason Davis and Bradley were denied free voter IDs is because they both hold out-of-state driver’s licenses. Neither one was denied the option of acquiring a free photo ID. If Davis or Bradley had been willing to give up their out-of-state driver’s licenses, they would have been eligible for a free photo ID. Alyssa Davis paid $10 for her ID, because she was unwilling to give up her Texas driver’s license.
As a student who attends college out of state, I do understand the conflict some may feel about where to call “home” – the state you grew up in, or the state you spend the most time in? Though I attend college out of state, North Carolina is my home – I consider my school year something of an exile from our beautiful state. My car is registered here, I pay taxes here. I plan to come back here when I finish my degree, so I am registered to vote here as well.
It should be noted that the DMV and the State Board of Elections view residency slightly differently. DMV officers who interacted with Bradley and Davis followed the letter of the law in pointing out that their out-of-state driver’s licenses would not be valid ID for voting outside of a 90-day period after moving to NC. I believe that your driver’s license and your voter registration should both reflect the location you call “home.” If that is Texas, Kentucky, or Georgia, you should register there (where your license will be valid ID). If it is North Carolina, you should have no problem with surrendering your out-of-state license and obtaining either a new one or a free voter ID card. You don’t get to pick and choose which state you reside in; you shouldn’t say, “I’m a Hawaii driver and a Connecticut property taxpayer and a North Carolina voter.”
According to the Democracy NC article, “They [Davis and Bradley] are both originally from other states – Texas and Georgia respectively – but have been students in North Carolina for the last 3+ years and neither plan to return to their state of origin.” If that is the case, why not just get a North Carolina driver’s license? Indeed, are they violating the laws of their home states if they hold driver’s licenses there but actually live here?
Neither Davis nor Bradley was willing to give up their out-of-state licenses in order to receive a free ID, but, it appears that any “problem” the two students had has already been solved. According to the State Board of Elections, these students’ experience has led to communication between DMV and the Board of Elections, and the DMV will begin issuing free voter ID cards to any eligible NC voter who does not already have a valid (for voting) ID.
The article and the surrounding hoopla smack of being just another media stunt from Democracy NC. Even the folks at Democracy NC know that our photo ID law will not disenfranchise voters, seeing that anyone who votes absentee (by mail) is not required to produce a photo ID.