Reform Bill Signed by NC Governor

On August 12th, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed a bill that will require voters to show an official photo ID in order to vote at the polls, scaling back the early voting period and ending one-stop registration for early voters. Early voting would be scaled back from 17 to 10 days, a significant figure in a state where 61 percent of voters used early voting in 2012. Accounting for this, the law requires the total voting hours to remain the same by increasing hours of the polls and opening more early voting sites. The law will take effect in 2016, and voters will only be able to use their in-state driver’s license, US passport, or military ID as form of ID for registration.

Democrats have criticized this measure, saying that it effectively suppresses young voters, hispanics, and blacks. These three groups are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed lawsuits on the same day the bill was past, claiming that under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the bill discriminates on the basis of race and is therefore illegal. Approximately one third of North Carolina’s voters without state-issued IDs are black, and blacks make up one fourth of the states population.

Voting rights changes are underway. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in a landmark case, making North Carolina able to change its voting laws without approval from a three-judge panel of a U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia or from the Department of Justice, something that had applied to jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination against minority groups.

Advocates say that the North Carolina law is “common sense” and that it is supported by around 70 percent of North Carolinian residents and will safeguard against voter fraud. Thirty-four states require a type of ID to vote, and North Carolina would be the 20th state to require a photo ID.

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