Juliet Burke recently moved from Maine to North Carolina. A brain tumor survivor, the disabled 68-year-old lives in affordable senior housing in West Asheville on an income of $650 per month.
Knowing that she would need a photo ID to vote in North Carolina, Burke asked a friend to drive her to the Department of Motor Vehicles office on Patton Avenue on Feb. 10. She had with her a Maine driver’s license, social security card and North Carolina Medicaid card, but was told that she needed a document showing her full middle name rather than the initial “M” (for Marie).
“Because I didn’t have anything that the DMV said I needed to have, like a birth certificate, divorce decree, income tax or W-2 forms stating what the M stood for, I was refused a picture ID,” wrote Burke in a statement.
Burke continued: “I showed them my checks and said the only piece of ID I had that had my full name was a Discover Credit Card and was told by the woman at DMV that it was no good.”
Though the office was empty, Burke reports that she was offered no further advice about getting a photo I.D. She left without accomplishing her errand.
Senior suffrage advocate Ann Butzner connected with Burke and drove her to the polling location at the Asheville Outlets on Monday, March 7. Burke requested an absentee ballot, which does not require a photo I.D. After some confusing interactions with a poll worker, Butzner says, Burke was directed to the help desk, where she eventually received a regular ballot based on the documentation she presented.
“It was a confusing experience,” Butzner says. “And after all that, she still doesn’t have a photo ID.” Butzner is working to coordinate a time to take Burke back to the DMV office for another shot at obtaining a photo ID.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Burke voted at the Buncombe County Board of Elections office on McDowell Street. She actually voted at the polling location at the Asheville Outlets at 800 Brevard Rd. The story has been updated.