WASHINGTON, D.C. / RALEIGH, N.C. / CHARLOTTE, N.C. – “We are here to announce that the Justice Department will file suit later today against the state of North Carolina to challenge portions of that state’s highly restrictive new voting law,” said US Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory replied, “I believe the federal government action is an overreach and without merit. I think it’s obviously influenced by national politics since the Justice Department ignores similar laws in other blue states throughout the United States of America.”
Under North Carolina’s new voting law, early voting is cut by one week. Straight-party voting is eliminated, along with same-day voter registration and a tough photo ID requirement is added.
Supporters say the law protects against voter fraud. Critics say it disenfranchises minority, elderly and student voters.
The president of the state’s NAACP chapter says McCrory and the legislature are on the wrong side of history. “This anti-voting rights bill tramples on the blood of the martyrs, desecrates the graves of freedom fighters,” says Rev. Dr. William Barber.
Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis released a joint statement Monday saying in part, “The law was designed to improve consistency, clarity and uniformity at the polls and it brings North Carolina’s election system in line with a majority of other states. We are confident it protects the right of all voters, as required by the US and North Carolina constitutions.”
“My mother always told me to pay attention to what people do versus what they say and I think their action speaks louder than their words,” says Democratic State Senator Malcolm Graham. He says he’s OK with the voter ID requirement; “It’s all the other stuff that the they threw in the bill that cause the Justice Department to take a look at what they’re doing,” says Graham.
The law, if it stays in tact, will be implemented gradually, starting in 2014 and fully enforced in 2016.