Lawsuits filed as McCrory signs voter ID law

August 12, 2013 8:18:38 PM PDT
Governor Pat McCrory signed a controversial law that would require North Carolina voters present picture ID at the polls Monday.

The Governor signed HB 589 over the objections of opponents who called it a thinly veiled attempt to keep people who are more likely to cast ballots for Democrats from voting. Democrat Attorney General Roy Cooper even stepped into the fight, asking McCrory not sign a law which he characterized as a "bad idea."

But in a news release sent out announcing he had signed the bill, the McCrory administration attempted to put a different spin on things.

Entitled: "Governor McCrory Signs Popular Voter ID into Law," the McCrory camp said the law "will help ensure the integrity of the North Carolina ballot box and provide greater equality in access to voting to North Carolinians."

In terming the law "popular" the governor's office cited three polls that show the majority of voters approve of some kind of voter ID restriction.

 "Common practices like boarding an airplane and purchasing Sudafed require photo ID and we should expect nothing less for the protection of our right to vote," said McCrory.

The voter ID law has been one of the subjects of the so-called "Moral Monday" protests at the General Assembly that has seen hundreds of arrests. Groups opposed to wide-ranging changes approved by the Republican majority have been staging acts of civil disobedience for weeks.

In addition to requiring a photo ID at the polls, the law makes early voting days longer, but shortens the number of early voting days, and stops same-day registration.

The law also ends so called "straight ticket" voting for a single party.

Supporters of the law say it is necessary to prevent voter fraud. But critics have pointed out that voter fraud is not a problem in the state.

The administration said 34 states have some kind of law requiring some form of ID to vote. The new North Carolina requirement will take effect in 2016.

In order to vote, North Carolinians will have to present a valid driver's license, U.S. passport, or military ID. Voters can also get a state-issued photo-ID from the Department of Motor Vehicles at no charge. If a voter comes to the polls without a photo-ID, they will have to cast a provisional ballot.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation, and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice filed a lawsuit Monday challenging the voter suppression law.

The suit specifically targets provisions of the law that eliminate a week of early voting, end same-day registration, and prohibit "out-of-precinct" voting.

"We need to be making it easier for North Carolinians to vote," said the ACLU's Chris Brook. "It cuts a week off of early voting -- 2.5 million North Carolinians took advantage of that in 2012. Now, it's a week shorter."

Bill supporters disagree with the ACLU's critisms.

"I'm all for early voting I do it myself," said Rep. Paul Stam, (R) Wake County "It shortens it to two weeks, instead of three, but requires there be just as many hours of open voting opportunities as before."

Rep. G. K. Butterfield expressed his disappointment after McCrory signed the bill into law.

"Governor McCrory and his party members have destroyed the progressive reputation for voting inclusion this state has long held," said Butterfield. "With one stroke of his pen, McCrory has effectively reversed 30 years of progress and reinstated practices similar to the discriminatory 'Southern strategy' adopted by the Republican party in the 60's and 70's. Without question, today is a shameful day for Republicans in North Carolina."

Butterfield sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to use all available options to challenge North Carolina's Voter Information Verification Act.

A 92 year-old African-American woman is also challenging North Carolina's voter ID law.

Rosanell Eaton has been a member of the state NAACP for more than 60 years, and has attended "Moral Monday" events at the Capitol.

State NAACP president Rev. William Barber told ABC11 that Eaton will appear at a news conference Tuesday with other plaintiffs in the case.

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