GREENSBORO — Two things tripped up N.C. A&T and UNCG on their way to get their school-issued ID cards approved for voting purposes:
Greensboro's two state universities let students and employees submit their own photos for ID cards, and the schools don’t always collect enough personal information from students.
A new North Carolina law lays out the standards that identification cards issued by public and private colleges and universities, American Indian tribes and state and local government agencies must meet to be used as proof of identity to vote. A separate law signed Thursday delays the state's voter ID requirement until 2020.
A&T and UNCG are among the 12 UNC System schools that fell short of these standards, according to a letter Friday to state lawmakers by Kim Strach, executive director of the State Board of Elections.
It’s unclear what steps, if any, the local universities and the UNC System might take to get clearance to use their student and employee ID cards for voting.
A UNCG spokeswoman provided letters from the university to the state elections board and declined further comment. An A&T spokesman also provided letters but did not return an email seeking comment Tuesday. A UNC System spokesman declined to comment Tuesday.
Here’s a glance at A&T's and UNCG's two ID roadblocks:
A&T and UNCG both let students submit their own photos for their school-issued ID cards as a time-saving measure.
But “(t)hese are not merely ‘selfies’ in the colloquial sense,” UNCG Chancellor Frank Gilliam wrote in a March 13 letter to Strach.
UNCG lays out a long list of guidelines for acceptable photos. Among them: no hats or head coverings; no sunglasses; the person must be facing forward and be alone in the picture; and the photo must be in color and at least 300 by 300 pixels.
The chancellors of both local schools wrote that university employees confirm that the person picking up a new ID is the same person whose photo appears on the card. A&T noted that students must show another form of ID, such as a driver’s license or passport, to collect their Aggie OneCard.
Employee IDs must meet the same standards. (A&T says it no longer accepts employee-submitted photos.) Both schools said they don’t issue employee IDs until after they confirm workers’ identities through the federal Employee Eligibility Verification, better known as Form I-9.
Strach, in her letter to lawmakers, said IDs acceptable for voting must have photos taken by a university or its contractors — no selfies, in other words.
Strach wrote that universities that check the identities of students picking up school-issued IDs “may be acceptable ways of accomplishing the goal of ensuring the true identity of the individual depicted on the photograph on the identification card, but the current statutory requirement would need to be amended to allow such a process.”
The state’s voter ID law requires universities to confirm a student’s birth date, Social Security number and citizenship status.
A&T and UNCG say they confirm student identities in multiple ways before issuing IDs. They get transcripts from high schools and other colleges. They collect SAT and ACT scores. They review federal financial aid forms.
But as A&T noted in its letter to the state elections board, students aren’t required to disclose their Social Security numbers. (A&T says it asks.) UNC System policy cites the federal Privacy Act of 1974, which limits the use of Social Security numbers by federal, state and local governmental entities.
UNCG said that not all students provide their Social Security numbers, birth dates or citizenship status.
A&T also said it issues student ID cards to students enrolled in its Early College and Middle College programs — Guilford County public schools housed on the A&T campus. Those high school students don’t go through A&T’s typical enrollment process, which means A&T doesn’t attempt to confirm their identities.
Strach again seemed sympathetic to the university’s attempts to make sure students are who they say they are.
Once again, however, “(s)ome of these processes might be satisfactory to confirm the identity of the student,” Strach wrote, “but the current statutory requirement that Social Security number, citizenship status and birthdate be included in the confirmation process would need to be removed in order for these institutions to comply.
Other UNC schools
The state elections board approved both student and employee IDs for voting use at only five UNC System schools: Appalachian State University, Elizabeth City State University, N.C. Central University, N.C. State University and UNC-Asheville.
The state elections board rejected student IDs at 11 state universities — including the state’s flagship, UNC-Chapel Hill — and the N.C. School of Science and Math, a state high school in Durham. In nearly every case, campuses allow students to submit their own ID pictures.
The state board did OK employee IDs for voting use at four campuses: Fayetteville State University, N.C. School of Science and Math, UNC-Wilmington and Winston-Salem State.
Five other institutions in the Greensboro area had IDs approved for voter ID use. They were student IDs at Bennett College and Elon University and employee cards issued by the city of Greensboro, the town of Jamestown and Guilford Preparatory Academy, a charter school.