Update: Voter ID

Posted by The Arc of North Carolina

At The Arc of North Carolina, we work tirelessly to advocate on behalf of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to ensure that they have access to the same rights and privileges as everyone else. The things that you hold important in your life - decisions about where you work, who you socialize with, where you worship, where you live - those are the same decisions people with I/DD want to make, too. Every day, we work towards that goal.

People with I/DD want to participate and make contributions to their community and society as a whole. Research has shown that if an individual with a disability is able to engage in daily activities, their quality of life increases. It’s crucial that people with disabilities are afforded the same opportunities as everyone else.

This past month, when a constitutional amendment was passed that will require a voter to produce identification, we were anxious to better understand from legislators what types of identification would be accepted and how this will affect people with disabilities. Importantly, we have heard from people with intellectual and developmental disabilities wanting to know for themselves how the change will affect them. We are eager to work closely with legislators so that they can understand the concerns of the large population of North Carolinians with I/DD and their families.

Before the law was passed, there were many issues surrounding voter identification and how people with intellectual and developmental disabilities would obtain an identification card. Because many people with disabilities are not enrolled in higher education programming (giving them a student identification) and because people with I/DD have markedly low employment rates as compared to their non-disabled peers (providing a workplace identification card), many people with disabilities are less likely to have an acceptable form of identification. In addition, there are barriers for people with disabilities who may struggle to locate official documents to obtain an identification. Transportation to an office that issues identification can be a barrier as well.

As the bill is under review, there are questions about new requirements for people with disabilities and how they obtain a voter identification. We are pleased that the North Carolina General Assembly is considering inclusion of a provision that allows for “a reasonable impediment declaration” that appears to address many of the concerns that voters with I/DD might have with obtaining a photo ID. We applaud this effort. Moreover, we appreciate that the new bill currently under review also specifies that people with disabilities can have any fees for obtaining an identification waived. The Arc of North Carolina looks forward to working with this administration to identify and establish appropriate means for an individual with I/DD to certify to elections officials that they have a qualifying disability.

We want to empower people with I/DD to exercise their rights and make their voice heard. We hope that continued discussion with the North Carolina General Assembly and Governor Cooper’s administration will ensure that people with I/DD can continue to contribute to their communities.