When Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signs North Carolina’s sweeping new elections bill as expected this month, critics will be ready to act, too – in court. The bill not only contains one of the nation’s strictest photo ID laws but compresses the time for early voting and ends straight-ticket balloting. It would no longer count provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct. The bill that emerged in the final days of this year’s legislative session goes beyond voting changes. It limits disclosure of outside campaign spending, ends public financing for judicial races and no longer makes candidates take responsibility for their ads. “I have never seen a single law that is more anti-voter,” says Penda Hair, a lawyer with the Advancement Project, a civil rights group in Washington. “North Carolina now joins a very short list of (states) that seem … motivated to stop people from voting.”
… Thomas Mann, a senior fellow at the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution, calls it “the most ambitious effort to suppress the voting of those likely to vote against the party in power in the country.” One liberal pundit said the bill “reads like a parody written for Stephen Colbert’s show.”
N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has called on McCrory to veto the bill.
“North Carolina for years has taken steps to encourage people to exercise their fundamental right to register and vote,” he said. “And this law makes registering and voting more difficult for many people.” But Cooper, as the state’s chief lawyer, could find his office in the position of defending the bill in court.