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Prepare to show photo ID at the polls

votingNew voter identification laws are in effect for the 2016 elections, meaning voters should be prepared to show a valid form of photo identification at the polls during the March 15 primary election.

Since this is the first year the new laws will be implemented, Haywood County Elections Supervisor Robert Inman encourages voters to be prepared before heading to the polls. 

“We want to encourage people to be prepared now — don’t wait until you get there to the poll only find out something should have updated,” Inman said. “Have your ID out and ready when you get to the polls.”

Thanks to a recent modification in the voter ID laws passed in 2013, there is now a provision that allows voters without a photo ID to cast a ballot as long as they sign an affidavit stating that they have a reasonable excuse. Acceptable reasons for not having an ID include a lack of transportation, disability or illness, lost or stolen photo ID, or a lack of a birth certificate or other documents to obtain a photo ID.

In order to meet all these new requirements under the law, Inman said more people have been trained to assist at the polls. Since it’s the first election with the new regulations, he asks voters to be patient as the kinks are worked out. The provisional ballot process will now take longer and there are additional steps to ensure voter IDs match the person who shows up to vote. 

“Does the photo ID bear reasonable resemblance to the person voting — that’s what we’ll be looking for,” he said. 

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In an effort to keep everything as streamlined as possible, Inman said voters should make sure they get everything updated by Friday, Feb. 19. If you have moved within the last 30 days, you may use your old address and precinct, but if you moved more than 30 days ago, Inman said it’s very important that you update your address on your voter registration and go to the correct precinct. 

“We have 11 ballot styles in (Haywood) County this election and we just want to make sure everyone receives the valid style and that the ballot doesn’t contain contests you’re not eligible to vote for and vice versa,” he said. 

Voters who are registered in North Carolina as “unaffiliated” have to choose between the Republican and the Democrat primary ballot. In the event that a second primary is held, the voter can only vote in the same primary as they voted in the first primary. 

For more information about voter ID laws, visit



Dates to remember

The 2016 Primary Election will be held March 15 and polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Early voting for the primary will be held March 3-12. 

• Haywood County locations: Senior Resource Center in Waynesville, the Clyde Municipal Building and the Canton Public Library. 

• Swain County locations: Swain County Board of Elections office and Birdtown Recreation Center.

Friday, Feb. 19 is the last day to register to vote, change party affiliation or update your address so that you vote in the right precinct. 


Which photo IDs will be accepted in 2016?

• NC driver’s license, learner’s permit or provisional license 

• Special ID card (N.C. DMV ID card).

• U.S. passport.

• U.S. military ID (retired, active, dependents and civilian).

• U.S. Veterans ID issued by Veterans Affairs

• Tribal enrollment card issued by federally recognized tribe.

• Tribal enrollment card issued by a N.C. recognized tribe.

• Out-of-state driver’s license, only if the voter registers to vote in the county within 90 days of the election

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