What’s at Stake
Stories from North Carolina Voters Who Could Be Denied the Right to Vote by a Photo ID Requirement
Visit the profiles to learn more about people who are sharing their stories.
Esphur Foster is a resident of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She has lived on the same street in the same neighborhood since she was a one-year-old little girl. She grew up in a very tight knit community, and her family was very involved in her church. Esphur explained that while growing up, church was one of the few places they were allowed to go to have fun. She enjoyed spending time with her siblings and friends at church. Members of her church were politically active and made her aware of issues that African Americans faced in society. Subsequently, Esphur’s brother started the civil rights demonstrations in town. As she got older Esphur had anxiety about voting, as she had heard the horror stories about what African Americans had to go through in the past at the polls. Thankfully, for years Esphur never had a problem voting in Chapel Hill.
Fred Culp is a 78 year-old resident of Waxhaw, North Carolina. He is originally from South Carolina but has lived in North Carolina for the last 45 years. He prides himself on being the best grandpa in the world. He vividly remembers growing up in the segregated South, having to enter the side doors of restaurants to be served. Fred explained that sometimes circumstances in the south caused you “to reach a boiling point.” He knew “what was right and wrong before things started changing in the south.” Fred demonstrated this by following Dr. Martin Luther King and Reverend Abernathy. Fred participated in a sit-in at one of the restaurants that forced him to enter through the side door.
Noah Van Hook
Noah Van Hook is a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Noah is from Vermont but moved with his family to Carrboro, North Carolina four years ago. Noah is majoring in computer science and mathematics. Noah has invested in his new community by staying informed and engaged in North Carolina politics. Unfortunately, he has experienced firsthand the impact our State’s previous Voter ID law.
Richard was raised in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and has spent most of his adult life working in both New York and North Carolina. A few years ago Richard came back home to North Carolina for good to take care of his father, who was in declining health, and to take over the family laundry business. While living in New York, Richard’s wallet, which contained his North Carolina drivers license, was stolen. Richard went through a rigorous process to get a New York government ID as a substitute.
Lynda is a resident of Asheville, North Carolina. She moved to Asheville from California. While growing up out west, Lynda listened to her grandmother tell stories of facing voter discrimination in Mississippi. Her grandmother was forced to answer questions about the Constitution in order to vote and experienced the real threat of being lynched for exercising her right to vote. Although these stories remained in the forefront of her mind, Lynda never had a problem voting in California.
Jabari Holmes is 42 years old and lives in Wendell, North Carolina. He was born with severe cerebral palsy that has confined him to a wheelchair. Jabari has voted in person in every election but one since he turned 18, despite the challenges involved in doing so. Jabari insists on going into the polling place to vote because this act confirms to him that he is an important part of society and makes him feel like he’s part of his community.
Paul Kearney is a resident of Warrenton, North Carolina. Paul lives in a tight-knit community where everyone knows each other on a first-name basis. His family has been in the community for four generations. His family has voted at the same precinct for decades, and when Paul arrived at his precinct, the polling staff greeted him by name. However, because of the photo ID requirement, polling staff was required by law to ask Paul for his ID even though they knew him. Unfortunately, Paul didn’t have his ID with him. He didn’t have time to go home and get his ID before the polls closed. Even though Paul has “a billfold full of IDs,” his only option was to cast a provisional ballot. And because he did not understand that he needed to take additional steps (go back to the county board of elections) to ensure his ballot was counted, Paul was disenfranchised.
Mina is a voting rights community organizer living in Durham, North Carolina. Originally from Georgia, Mina attended college at Duke University. Before the 2016 March primary, when Mina was still a student at Duke, she received an email encouraging her to go vote. She wanted to vote in Durham because she lived there and was engaged with her local community. Mina arrived at an early voting site with two pieces of photo identification: her Georgia driver’s license and her Duke University photo student ID. The polling staff told her that these documents were insufficient to satisfy North Carolina’s voter ID requirement that was in place at the time. Mina was not even offered a provisional ballot.
Daniel Earl Smith has lived in Concord, North Carolina for five years now, and has been a regular voter ever since moving to the state from Pennsylvania. In 2016, like all North Carolina drivers have to do from time to time, Daniel had to get a new driver’s license because his old license expired. He went to the DMV and obtained a new license. However, his replacement license had to be mailed to him. The DMV gave him a temporary paper license to use until he received the official replacement. The temporary license included his name, address and a photo of his face. On Election Day, Daniel only had this temporary license, not his replacement license. Because the temporary license was not acceptable ID under the voter ID law, Daniel was forced to cast a provisional ballot. Unfortunately, his vote was not counted.
Jaden Peay is a sophomore at North Carolina Central University. Jaden chose to major in political science because he’s passionate about voting and participating in the political system. Last year, as a freshman, Jaden voted in Durham for the first time with no problem. However, if the Voter ID Amendment passes, he may not have that same experience in the future.
Terence is a 28-year-old resident of Charlotte, North Carolina. He moved to North Carolina from Mississippi to attend Shaw University. Terence was a student athlete and a Computer Information Systems major. After college he moved to Charlotte to take advantage of a job opportunity. Terence still lives and works in Charlotte and has decided to make the city his new home.