Colin Powell blasts NC voting changes in speech

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Colin Powell

RALEIGH, N.C. — President George W. Bush’s former secretary of state Colin Powell blasted North Carolina’s new voting laws, saying the changes damage the Republican Party.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported that Powell spoke at a CEO forum Thursday at a Raleigh country club with Gov. Pat McCrory in attendance.

Powell said the changes to voting in North Carolina hurt the Republican Party, punishes minority voters and makes it more difficult for everyone to vote.

“I want to see policies that encourage every American to vote, not make it more difficult to vote,” said Powell, a Republican.

Gov. Pat McCrory delivered the event’s opening remarks and spoke before Powell. McCrory signed the controversial bill into law on Aug. 12.

The bill 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.

The bill will start taking effect this fall and continue through 2014 and beyond. The changes concerning photo ID take effect in 2016.

Powell, a former top Pentagon general, also rejected some GOP arguments that IDs are needed because voter fraud likely exists but is hard to detect.

He said the actions of the elections bill do not build on the Republican base, but instead turn people away.

McCrory did not discuss the changes to the voting process, but instead focused on the role of community colleges in education and job training.

Source: The News & Observer of Raleigh