During Tuesday’s primary elections for one of the most closely watched U.S. Senate races in the country, voter advocacy groups will be trying to gauge the effects of a new state law that requires photo IDS at the polls, reduces the number of early-voting days, and eliminates same-day registration. Eight Republican candidates are competing to be the candidate who will challenge Democratic incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan in November. The contest is an important one for the GOP, which is trying to regain control of the U.S. Senate in this year’s midterm elections — and it is the first election in North Carolina held since the elections overhaul took effect. Several provisions of the new law are being challenged in at least four federal and state lawsuits. A key part of the law — requiring voters to show photo IDs — won’t start until 2016, although voters Tuesday will be asked if they have photo IDs. If they don’t, they can still vote, but will be asked to sign an acknowledgment of the ID requirements and will be given information on how to obtain a photo ID, in some cases for free.
Other provisions of the law will be fully enforced, including one requiring voters to cast their ballots in their appointed precinct. In the past, voters casting ballots in the wrong precinct would more than likely have had their votes counted.
“This new law creates more barriers — especially to youth and people of color, poor and working families,” said Bryan Perlmutter, spokesman for Ignite NC, one of the groups that trained volunteers to monitor the polls.
Approved last summer by the General Assembly, the law reduced the number of days of in-person early voting from 17 to 10 and ended same-day registration during that early period starting with Tuesday’s election.