The same day that Attorney General Eric Holder put states on notice that the Justice Department will continue to fight voting laws it considers discriminatory, North Carolina made itself the agency's next likely target.
The Tar Heel State on Thursday passed a sweeping new voting law that requires voters to present government-issued photo IDs and reduced the number of early voting days from 17 to 10, the Associated Press reports.
In addition, the bill ends same-day registration and voters must make any changes to their status, such as an address change, 25 days before an election. A high school civics program through which tens of thousands of students registered to vote before their 18th birthday also was eliminated.
If Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, signs the measure, North Carolina could become the first state to pass a voting law without having to seek clearance, thanks to the Supreme Court ruling on the Voting Rights Act.
“We understand there will be lawsuits,” Senate leader Phil Berger told AP. “It’s our belief the laws we are passing are consistent with Constitutional requirements and they will be upheld.”
According to the newswire, a state study found that more than 300,000 registered voters in North Carolina, mostly senior citizens and low-income minorities, do not have driver's licenses or other state-issued IDs.
“This action will reverse a generation of electoral progress for African-Americans in North Carolina,” North Carolina Congressman G.K. Butterfield said in a statement. “Much of this progress was fought and won through the courts. All North Carolinians should be outraged with this discriminatory legislation and should not sit idly by and see these deplorable changes turn back the clock on the advancements that so many have fought to obtain.”
Butterfield also vowed to ask Holder to challenge the measure.
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