North Carolina Passes Controversial Voter ID Laws

North Carolina passed a controversial new voter bill Thursday night. The new laws require citizens to present photo identification before being allowed to vote. The state joins several others who have recently passed controversial voting laws.

The new laws passed through the North Carolina House after approval from the state senate, CNN reports. Republicans in the state hailed the new laws as an important guard against voter fraud. One state senator, Phil Berger, says the new laws give “confidence in our election process and ensures voters are who they say they are.”

Laws like these have passed in several other states recently. This comes after an US Supreme Court ruling struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act last month. Now, states that used to need federal approval before changing their voting laws no longer face such restrictions.

Critics say that the Supreme Court ruling has opened up opportunities for politicians to suppress minority, poor, and disabled voters. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the new law in North Carolina is one such law. The new bill “attacks democracy at its core” they say.

They say the new bill is full of changes to discourage many voters, including young people. It gets rid of early registration programs and will not consider college IDs valid. The ACLU says that new provisions also target the elderly and disabled by shortening early voting and making it harder to set up new polling spots.

North Carolina’s new bill will also no longer mandate voter registration drives and not allow same-day registration.

The Huffington Post points out that there have only been a handful of documented instances of voter fraud in the state. Studies have also shown that over 300,000 previously registered voters in North Carolina lack the now required government-issued IDs to vote. Most are elderly or low-income minorities.

Republicans who supported the bill say it will protect elections in the state. As State Senator Berger points out, nearly three-quarters of North Carolina residents agree.

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