The changes to voting laws contained in the bill have been highly controversial and will directly impact North Carolina voters. Most notably, voters must now provide government issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license, at the polls before they can cast their ballot. Early voting has also been curtailed, shortened from 17 days to the 10 days before the election. The version of the bill Governor McCrory is expected to sign into law also requires that voter registration and modifications to existing voter registration be completed at least 25 days before the election, eliminating same day registration. The popular and successful high school civics program which registers tens of thousands of students to vote each year before their 18th birthday will also be eliminated along with straight ticket voting, a practice in North Carolina since 1925.
There has been backlash at the state and national level since the bill passed the North Carolina Senate last week. Opponents believe the provisions, especially the ID requirement, will keep many from voting and will make the lines much longer on Election Day. Student IDs issued by state universities and colleges will not be an accepted form of identification and many elderly North Carolinians do not have driver’s licenses. Proponents of the bill argue that the measures are necessary to crack down on what they see as rampant voter fraud in the state. Whether this will be the last word or whether the new laws will be challenged remains to be seen.