On Thursday night, the GOP led legislature in North Carolina passed one of the strictest voter ID laws in the country. This comes just a month after the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act that required preclearance by the Department of Justice before certain localities could make changes to their voting laws. North Carolina was one of those states that had to have approval by the federal government before altering its voting laws because of its history in discriminatory practices.
The North Carolina law limits the kind of identification that voters can use at the polls to a North Carolina driver’s license, a state-issued ID card, a military ID, or a U.S. passport. A college ID will no longer be sufficient and an out of state license will not work for voters who recently relocated to the state unless that voter has moved into the state within 60 days of the election.
Voting rights advocates were arguing that the cost of obtaining documentation and IDs would limit some minorities from participating in elections. Approximately 5% of North Carolina voters do not have a driver’s license or a state ID card. About a third of the voters in the state who do not have a state issued ID are African American. A majority of the voters who don’t have a state issued ID are Democrats.
The bill also cuts early voting. Early voting was extremely popular in 2012 and was widely used by the Democrats to increase turnout.
North Carolina becomes the first state since the Supreme Court decision to strike down the federal government review of changes in the voter laws to push through a strict voter ID law. Attorney General Eric Holder has suggested that the Department of Justice could monitor the voting laws and file suit if it considers the new laws to be discriminatory.