Governor Pat McCrory signed the sweeping Voter Photo ID bill into law Monday. Starting in 2016, most state residents will be required to bring a photo ID with them to the polls. It also makes other changes to the voting process – including getting rid of automatic straight-party voting.
After signing the voter photo ID bill, Governor McCrory released a video explaining his decision. He began by pointing out that in 2005, Democratic and Republican legislators got together to require residents to present a photo ID to purchase Sudafed, a sinus medication.
"Let me be direct," McCrory says in the video. "Many of those from the extreme left who have been criticizing photo ID are using scare tactics. They're more interested in divisive politics than ensuring that no one's vote is disenfranchised by fraudulent ballot."
Opponents of the law say it will disenfranchise lower-income voters who don't have IDs. About 300,000 North Carolina residents do not have any form of photo identification.
People without IDs can now get them from the DMV for free but no one will need one until 2016. But other parts of the law will go into effect in the next election.
For one thing, the number of early voting days will be reduced by one week. Other things that have been eliminated: automatic straight-ticket voting, pre-registration for teens, public financing for judicial races and you can no longer register and vote on the same day. The law also raises the contribution limit from $4,000 to $5,000 and limits disclosure by third-party groups of outside campaign spending.
"Early voting just skyrocketed in the last eight years," says Robert Dickerson, director of the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections. "The good thing about this legislation is that it does not take early voting away, it limits the number of days that I can do it. It's the presidential election that will worry me, as to how we handle that."
The ACLU and Southern Coalition for Social Justice filed a lawsuit challenging the law hours after it was signed into law.
Read more about the law here: WFAE: NC Explainer: Voting Rights