Gov. Pat McCrory (Photo: Raleigh News & Observer/MCT/LANDOV)
North Carolina’s governor has signed into law legislation enacting new voter identification laws that require residents to produce proof of their identities when they go to the polls to cast their ballots.
The new law was passed by the state’s Republican legislature and supported by Gov. Pat McCrory. It represents the first voting restrictions by a state since the United States Supreme Court struck down parts of the Voting Rights Act a month ago.
"Common practices like boarding an airplane and purchasing Sudafed require photo ID," McCrory, a Republican, said in a statement. "And we should expect nothing less for the protection of our right to vote."
The new law was widely — and quickly — condemned by a number of civil rights organizations and elected officials, who said that it would have a detrimental effect on voting by many African-American, Latino and poor residents of the state.
In fact, the new law was immediately challenged in Federal District Court in North Carolina by the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.
The suit by the groups challenges the section of the law that ends same-day registration and shortens the period for early voting. However, the suit does not address the voter identification requirement.
“Governor Pat McCrory and the North Carolina Legislature are on the wrong side of history,” the North Carolina NAACP said, in a statement. “This Anti-Voting Rights Bill tramples on the blood of our martyrs, desecrates the graves of freedom fighters, and in the 21st Century lines up with the extreme racially-driven philosophy of interposition and nullification promoted by past political figures like George Wallace and Strom Thurmond."
The state NAACP has been intensely active in coordinating demonstrations against the actions of the Republican-controlled legislature, including the new voting laws.
“Their direct attempts to suppress the civil rights of Black people in North Carolina and secure power through manipulation of the electorate are the ultimate crimes against democracy, driven by extremists in our state,” the NAACP said. “For the governor to sign this horrific bill less than a week after Julius Chambers was laid to rest is dishonorable.”
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