North Carolina's Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has signed a bill requiring photo identification at polling stations as a condition for voting, while eliminating a number of long-standing practices surrounding the state's election procedures.
But almost immediately after, voters' rights groups filed legal challenges against the new law, the Raleigh paper, the News and Observer reported
. They argue that ID laws disenfranchise low-income minority voters who may not be able to comply with the new rules, thereby reducing voter turnout, often in Democratic districts.
The bill, signed Monday, will require voters to show photo identification, such as a driver's license, passport, veteran's ID, or tribal card, in order to cast a ballot starting in the 2016 elections, according to McCrory's website
Among other things, the measure also reduces early voting by one week, eliminates same-day registration, ends pre-registration for 16 and 17 year-olds, and ends an annual state-sponsored voter registration drive.
Proponents of the bill, and other measures like it around the country, argue it will stamp out voter fraud, though there have been few reported cases.
"Even if the instances of misidentified people casting votes are low, that should prevent us from putting this non-burdensome safeguard in place," McCrory, a Republican, said in a Raleigh News and Observer op-ed piece
. "Just because you haven't been robbed doesn't mean you shouldn't lock your doors at night when you're away from home."
The measure became possible in June after the Supreme Court struck down
a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which prevented a number of southern states with a history of racial discrimination from determining their own laws and regulations on voting, and instead required them to get federal approval for all of their election procedures.
Critics of the North Carolina law, including the ACLU, say it violates the Voting Rights Act. “With one stroke of the pen, McCrory has effectively reversed 30 years of progress," U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat, told the News and Observer. “Without question, today is a shameful day for Republicans in North Carolina.”
As a sign of the times, the governor bypassed a traditional signing ceremony and opted instead for an announcement on YouTube.
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