(NEW YORK) — North Carolina’s sweeping and restrictive new voting law is facing multiple legal challenges from civil rights groups that argue it discriminates against black and young voters.
Republican Governor Pat McCrory signed the bill Monday, which goes into effect in 2016. Among other things, the law requires voters to bring state-issued photo IDs to the polls, cuts down early voting time by one week, eliminates same-day voter registration, and bans pre-registration for youth voters who will turn 18 on Election Day.
The American Civil Liberties Union, along with two other groups, immediately filed a legal challenge that argues the law attempts to suppress minority voters, thereby violating the Constitution and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The NAACP has filed a similar suit.
Allison Riggs, a staff attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, said in a statement, “Taken together, the new restrictions in this law will disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of eligible voters, depriving many of our most vulnerable citizens from being able to easily exercise a constitutional right.”
A third lawsuit will challenge the voter ID provision under the state’s constitution, according to The Nation.
McCrory and Republican lawmakers noted that voter ID laws are popular in opinion polls and stated that the North Carolina law is simply meant to prevent voter fraud.
But Democrats and civil rights groups argue that voter fraud is a negligible problem in North Carolina. And moreover, they say that Republicans are simply trying to improve their chances of winning elections by preventing young and minority voters — who tend to vote Democrat — from casting ballots.
North Carolina is the latest battleground on voting rights. Last June, the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that required certain states with a history of racial discrimination, including North Carolina, to get federal permission before changing their voting laws.
Since the restrictions were removed, several states have moved swiftly to enact new voting laws. The Justice Department has already indicated it will pursue legal action against Texas for its new voter ID law, and North Carolina could be next on the list.
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