Governor McCrory signs controversial elections bill

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Gov. Pat McCrory

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed a controversial elections bill into law Monday, citing the “common sense” need to protect the right to vote.

House Bill 589 will make dozens of changes to how the state conducts elections and will start taking effect this fall and continue through 2014 and beyond.

It will require voters to present a government-issued photo identification at the polls, shorten the early voting period by a week, eliminate same-day voter registration, eliminate straight-party ticket voting and eliminate a program encouraging high school students to register to vote before turning 18.

Opponents contend such laws unfairly discriminate against minority voters.

“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,” McCrory said in a statement.

The law passed the Republican-controlled state legislature at the end of July.

North Carolina is now able to pass voting laws without federal pre-approval after the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Voting Rights Act in June. The act had given federal control over voting laws in several southern states, including North Carolina.

A Republican, McCrory argued that most states already have voter ID laws and admonished elements on the “extreme left” for using “scare tactics.”

“They’re more interested in divisive politics than ensuring that no one’s vote is disenfranchised by a fraudulent ballot,” McCrory said.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice have already filed a lawsuit challenging the law, according to a statement the ACLU released Monday. The lawsuit criticizes the law for “voter suppression,” specifically targeting provisions that limit early voting, end registration on the same day as the vote and prevent voting “out-of-precinct.”

These provisions “would unduly burden the right to vote and discriminate against African-American voters, in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause and the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” the statement says.

“Eliminating a huge part of early voting will cut off voting opportunities for hundreds of thousands of citizens,” Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in the statement.

“It will turn Election Day into a mess, shoving more voters into even longer lines.”

Allison Riggs, staff attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, said the law would make it more difficult for African-Americans to cast their vote.

“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,” Riggs said in the statement.

CNN contributed to this report

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