Elections, Fall 2013 Articles, Politics

Changes to Election Laws, Many Students Unaware

The North Carolina General Assembly recently passed the Voter Information Verification Act (a good summary of it can be found here: http://www.wral.com/election-changes-coming-in-2014-2016/12750290/). The provision attracting the most attention is the requirement for voters to show a government issued photo ID—many have sued the state to prevent it from happening. However, the act also changed many other lesser-known rules. These changes include eliminating both same-day voter registration and the pre-registration of 16 and 17 year-olds.ID1

Recently, the PackPoll asked students if they knew about the new law, and how they felt about it.  We found that many students are not knowledgeable about the law. Just 38%, for example, knew that North Carolina had eliminated the ability to register and vote on the same day. Likewise, only 53% knew that their student ID would no longer qualify to prove their identity to vote.  Worse, about a quarter of the students believed that the law now allowed 16-17 year olds to be pre-registered to vote, when in fact the very opposite is now true—the state banned pre-registration.


Some students, however, were more accurate than others. Upperclassmen, especially seniors and Democrats, were more knowledgeable about the changes to voting laws.  Seniors, for example, were more likely to correctly identify the number of days for early voting had been reduced and also that the state had eliminated same-day voter registration.ID5

The survey also asked about three election laws that were not true, and these same groups were less likely to falsely believe they were part of the act. Interestingly, Democrats were more aware of the elimination of same-day registration, shortened early voting, and the elimination of student ID, but they also were more likely to incorrectly believe that citizens must pay for an ID from the DMV.

The poll asked how students felt about three parts of the law: voter ID, pre-registration, and same-day voter registration. Students would be more upset about the bill, it seems, if they knew more about it.


Consistent with most polling in the state and nationally, an overwhelming majority of students say they support requiring voters to show a government issued photo ID. On the other hand, support for requiring voter ID declines from 80% to 65% if told that student ID, which was once permissible, will no longer be an acceptable form of ID, and that everyone already had to prove their identity to register for the first time, albeit with a broader array of forms of identification.


 In addition, although the state eliminated early voter registration for 16-17 year olds, 89% of students favored pre-registration. Likewise, 74% of students support same day voter-registration, which was just eliminated.

The Pack Poll is a representative survey of NCSU 1,032 undergraduates. The survey was conducted over the internet using email to sample students between Nov 7-12, 2013. The response rate is 23%, and the margin of sampling error is +/-2.97%.


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