McCrory signs Voter ID bill despite Attorney General opposition - WNCN: News, Weather

McCrory signs Voter ID bill despite Attorney General opposition

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

North Carolina made sweeping change to the way its citizens vote on Monday as Gov. Pat McCrory signed House Bill 589 - commonly referred to as Voter ID bill – into law despite vehement protests from some, including the state's Attorney General.

The 47-page bill includes dramatic, and subtle, changes to the way North Carolina holds elections. Some of the changes are small - for example, ballots have listed the Democratic candidates first because the candidates were listed in alphabetical order, based on the dominant parties. Since "D" comes before the Republican "R," Democrats went first.

Under the new bill, the candidates from the first dominant party listed will be the candidates from the party that led the voting for governor in the last election – in this case, the Republicans.

Others are more dramatic. The bill's highlights include the new requirements on a photo identification, which McCrory called "common sense." That rule takes effect Jan. 1, 2016.

"North Carolinians overwhelmingly support a common sense law that requires voters to present photo identification in order to cast a ballot," McCrory said in a statement. "I am proud to sign this legislation into law.

"Common practices like boarding an airplane and purchasing Sudafed require photo ID and we should expect nothing less for the protection of our right to vote."

The governor's office pointed to recent polls from Elon University and Civitas that showed strong support for the measure.

But there was serious opposition. North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has opposed the bill. On Friday, he told WNCN, Cooper called it bad public policy, but he says there's another compelling reason for the governor to reject the measure.

"One of the consequences of signing this legislation is you're to have expensive litigation," Cooper said.

On Monday, it didn't take long for Cooper to criticize McCrory in a statement, saying, "This bill was much more than just voter ID. There were dozens of reasons to veto this bad elections bill with its restrictions on voting, more corporate campaign money and reduced public disclosure being just a few."

The NAACP, which has led the Moral Monday protests, said Monday, "We will fight this race-based, immoral and regressive bill with everything we have and believe we will be victorious."

McCrory stumbled in a recent news conference when pressed by an Associated Press reporter about the bill and admitted he had not read the bill entirely. On Monday morning, he did not take questions from reporters, who went to a public appearance to question him.

McCrory, however, defended the bill at length in his statement Monday afternoon and also released a video on his website addressing the bill.

"Let me be direct. Many of those from the extreme left who have been criticizing photo ID are using scare tactics," he said. "They are more interested in divisive politics than ensuring that no one's vote is disenfranchised by a fraudulent ballot."

Acceptable forms of identification include a valid North Carolina driver's license, U.S. passport and various military IDs are among the acceptable forms of photo identification. A voter can also obtain a state-issued photo-ID from the Department of Motor Vehicles for free.

WNCN took a lengthy look at the bill and found:

  • North Carolinians with a religious objection to being photographed can declare that and have that recorded as part of the official record.
  • If a person is homeless, they don't have to pay a fee for an identification card if they "present a letter from the director of a facility that provides care or shelter to homeless persons verifying that the person is homeless."
  • The bill requires the person taking a person's application to ask if the applicant is a U.S. citizen. If the applicant says no or doesn't answer, "the person taking the application shall inform the applicant that it is a felony for a person who is not a citizen of the United States to apply to register to vote.

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