Sit-in follows tentative approval of voter ID law

July 24, 2013 7:55:38 PM PDT
The North Carolina Senate tentatively passed legislature Wednesday that drastically alters how voting will be conducted statewide.

The bill, which changes voter registration, early voting, and other things, led to a sit- in and arrests.

A handful of students with the Forward Together Movement crowded Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis' office with a bone to pick over the new state voter ID law.

They chanted, "Forward together, not one step back."

The sit-in was preceded by a silent procession before the Senate voted 32 to 14 to approve House Bill 589. The vote did not come without a fervent debate for and against.

"I enjoy my constitutional rights and I want my constitutional right and to be sure that my vote counts and to be sure that it's not diluted," said Sen. Ronald Rabin, (R) District 12.

Protesters believe the bill is the greatest assault on voting rights in more than a century.

A statement by the Forward Together Movement says, "In the last election cycle, we witnessed the greatest assault on voting rights in over a century, through a wave of new voting policies. These included restricting the type of ID that voters may use at the polls, reducing early voting periods, and targeting eligible voters to kick off the rolls using flawed immigration data. Those attacks pale in comparison to what we're seeing in North Carolina today."

The Senate version establishes a specific list of valid government-issued photo IDs required to vote. It also includes last-minute provisions eliminating same-day voter registration, straight ticket party voting, and among other things cuts a week from early voting.

Sit-in Participants wanted lawmakers to put an immediate end to voter ID bill.

However, Tillis wasn't in his office and General Assembly police arrested six students, who defiantly chanted with tethered wrists.

Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger did release a statement after the vote.

"A measure that restores confidence in our election process and ensures voters are who they say they are is a no-brainer ? and nearly three-quarters of North Carolinians agree," said Berger. "This bill will bring North Carolina in line with the majority of other states that already require voter ID."

In other parts of the bill, North Carolina's presidential primary would be moved earlier to closely follow South Carolina's vote. The bill also weakens disclosure requirements for those underwriting campaign ads and increases the ability of political parties to rake in corporate donations.

The bill faces another Senate vote Thursday before heading to the GOP-controlled House.

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