WASHINGTON – North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday signed into law one of the nation’s most wide-ranging voter-identification laws, just a few weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court opened the door for such changes by striking down a key portion of the Voting Rights Act.
The move is likely to touch off a major court battle over voting rights, and the Justice Department is weighing a challenge to the new law.
The measure requires voters to present government-issued photo identification at the polls and shortens the early-voting period from 17 days to 10. It also ends preregistration for 16- and 17-year-old voters who will be 18 on Election Day and eliminates same-day registration.
Democrats have been fighting against the changes, arguing that they represent an effort to suppress the minority vote and the youth vote as well as reduce Democrats’ advantage in early voting. They point out that there is little documented evidence of voter fraud, the principal reason Republicans cite for the changes.
Republicans also say that shortening the window for early voting will save the state money, and they further note that while the North Carolina law makes many changes to how the state conducts its elections, most of the major proposals — specifically voter ID and ending same-day registration — bring North Carolina in line with many other states. .
“While some will try to make this seem to be controversial, the simple reality is that requiring voters to provide a photo ID when they vote is a common-sense idea,” McCrory said in a statement. “This new law brings our state in line with a healthy majority of other states throughout the country. This common-sense safeguard is commonplace.”