The legislature on Thursday passed a package of strict voting measures that may invite a federal lawsuit. The bill’s supporters said the measure will restore the integrity of elections and can withstand any challenge under federal law or the state constitution. But critics say the legislation is ripe for a legal challenge. The Senate gave the bill final approval with a 33-14 vote. The House followed, sending the bill to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature with a 73-41 vote. As the House tally was read, Democrats stood, held hands and bowed their heads. The bill was much more expansive than the relatively straight-forward voter ID legislation the House approved in April that allowed students at state universities to use their school identification cards. The Senate changed the House ID provisions and added many more rules that Democrats said would discourage minority, student and elderly voters. “This is about a fear to lose power,” said Rep. Yvonne Lewis Holley, a Raleigh Democrat. “The Senate is afraid.”
Rep. David Lewis, a Harnett Republican, said Democrats were fear-mongering, misrepresenting the legislation and its intent.
“This bill you have before you is a step (in) improving the integrity of the process of this state,” he said.
Lewis was the only Republican to speak on the measure in the House, where Democrats used most of the 2-1/2 hours of debate to recall the fight for voting rights in the 1960s.
The sweeping changes to voting and elections were among the Republicans priorities for the session that is drawing to a close.
The bill requires voters to show photo identification at the polls, and it shortens the early-voting period while expanding the hours polling sites will be open during that time. It strikes the opportunity to register and vote on the same day during early voting, and eliminates pre-registration for teenagers 16 to 17 years old, among dozens of other changes.
Before this summer, the state would have had to go to the U.S. Department of Justice or federal court for “pre-clearance” of this legislation before enforcing it.
But last month, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated an important part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Section 5, which required states with a history of discrimination toward minority voters to seek Justice Department or court approval – “pre-clearance” – before making voting law changes.
Full Article: Elections bill headed to McCrory | CharlotteObserver.com.