North Carolina Gov. Patrick McCrory has signed a sweeping voting reform bill that imposes strict photo identification requirements on the state’s 4.5 million voters, rolls back the early voting period and repeals one-stop registration during early voting. Almost immediately following the signing, civil rights groups filed lawsuits in federal court challenging the law. McCrory, a Republican elected last November, called the bill – passed by the legislature along party lines on July 25 – “a common sense law” that is supported by 70 percent of North Carolinians polled. “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,” McCrory said in a written statement. Defending the law in an on camera statement posted to YouTube, he criticized opponents’ “from the extreme left” for using “scare tactics.”
While McCrory referred to the law as a “safeguard” against voter fraud, there is scarce evidence of it in North Carolina. The state’s Board of Elections has referred only two cases of alleged voter impersonation fraud since 2004 to prosecutors.
The governor, like the state legislature sponsors before him, noted that 34 states now require some form of ID to vote. North Carolina would be the 20th state to require a photo ID, while 14 states require or request voters to present some other form of identification.