The state’s new election law changes when people can vote and how they can vote. It also changes campaign financing and disclosure laws. Here are some of the major provisions and when they begin.
Starting in September:
• Students younger than 18 can no longer pre-register to vote.
Starting Oct. 1:
Lobbyists cannot pass along any contribution to a candidate. Current law only prohibits the delivering of “bundled” contributions, that is, donations from multiple people or clients.
Starting with the 2014 elections:
• The early voting period will be one week shorter. County election boards, however, are required to provide the same number of hours for early voting so expect longer hours and more voting sites.
• You’ll no longer be able to vote a straight ticket. And candidates will appear on the ballot in alphabetical order by party – beginning with the party whose nominee for governor received the most votes in the most recent election.
• You’ll no longer be able to register and vote on the same day.
• You’ll no longer have your vote count if you vote at a precinct that isn’t yours. In the past, such votes would be counted as provisional ballots.
• There will be more people watching. Currently the chairs of county political parties can designate two observers at each precinct or voting place. The law allows them to name 10 additional at-large observers who can go anywhere in a county.
• Judicial elections for state Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals will no longer be funded by the public financing system started in 2002 as an effort to prevent judges from conflicts of interest with campaign donors. The money came from voluntary tax checkoffs and a $50 annual surcharge on fees attorneys paid to the state bar.
• When you vote in the primary and general elections between May 1, 2014, and Jan. 1, 2016, you’ll be told that a photo ID will be needed in 2016 and asked whether you have one of the forms of identification accepted. If you say you don’t, you’ll be asked to sign an acknowledgment of the photo ID requirement and be given information on how to get one. The list of names will be a public record.
• Candidates will no longer have to stand by their ads. The law repeals a 1999 law that requires political candidates, parties or political action committees to identify themselves on the air as the sponsors of an ad.
Starting with 2016 elections:
• You’ll have to show one of eight authorized photo IDs: an N.C. driver’s license that has not expired, a special ID card for non-drivers, a U.S. passport, a military ID card, a veteran’s ID card issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a tribal enrollment card issued by the federal government, or a tribal ID card recognized by the state. Not included: student IDs.
If you don’t have a valid ID, you’ll be allowed to cast a provisional ballot. But to have it count you must go to the elections board within six days (nine in presidential elections) and show a valid ID.
• North Carolina pays for two primary elections. If South Carolina holds its presidential primary before March 15, North Carolina would hold its presidential primary the next Tuesday. The primary for state and local candidates would continue to take place in May.
Campaign finance changes
• Ads and mailers by outside groups or parties will no longer have to list their five largest donors over the previous six months.
• Groups will be allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money during summer months – after the May primary through Sept. 6 – without disclosing the source or amount. They would have to disclose money spent only after Sept. 7 and only in even-numbered years.
• Raises the maximum contribution limit from $4,000 to $5,000 starting with contributions made on or after Jan. 1, 2014. Also ties future limits to the Consumer Price Index, raising it in odd-numbered years beginning in 2015.
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