By Riyah Exum,
Municipal Elections took place on Nov. 5 for mayor and city council. Durham County Board of Elections has confirmed that William “Bill” Bell will be mayor for a third term. However, new changes to voter’s registration may impact future voters in upcoming elections.
New voting residents will now be required to show a photo ID in order to register to vote.
This can have an effect on younger voters who do not have official photo ID’s like a driver’s license, military ID, and/or passport, but other changes that come into effect January 1, 2014 may cause more conflict in the voting process than having a state license.
“Most of the attention has been on the voter ID part of the law. but the other changes could potentially have a measurable impact on voter participation,” said Michael Perry, director of the Board of Elections.
Voter ID will not be a requirement until 2016, while other restrictions like elimination of same-day registration, reduction in the early voting period and restriction on counting out of precinct provisional ballots will be in effect Jan. 1, 2014.
Voting by absentee mail is now being seen as the easiest and less troublesome way to vote. Voting by absentee mail does not have a photo ID requirement and it is also unaffected by the reduction of the early voting period.
“While voting by mail is the most difficult and expensive way to vote for elections, administrators believe it may prove to be the least troublesome way for voters,” said Perry.
There has been a decline in voter participation even though the new laws have not all been implemented. A little over 28,000 people voted in 2011, as oppose to this year where only a little over 18,000 people voted in Durham.
Perry believes that unless we further educate our current and future voters about these changes, we may see even less voter participation next time.
Jacqueline Wagstaff, an advocate for justice in the Durham community, suggests making voting a community service requirement for students to graduate at NCCU.
“This way you could increase voting and awareness at the same time,” said Wagstaff.