North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday signed into law changes in how residents can vote that includes requiring them to show a photo ID at polling stations, a move that triggered threats of legal action from the NAACP and other groups.
The American Civil Liberties Union joined two other groups in announcing that they were filing suit against key parts of the package. This came hours after McCrory said in a statement that he had signed the measure, without a ceremony.
“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 Republican governor said in a statement.
McCrory, a Republican, also said residents “overwhelmingly” support the “common sense” law and that North Carolina is following 34 other states in requiring some form of vote ID.
"While some will try to make this seem to be controversial, the simple reality is that requiring voters to provide a photo ID when they vote is a common sense idea,” McCrory also said. “This new law brings our state in line with a healthy majority of other states throughout the country.”
The suit specifically targets the parts of the law that eliminate a week of early voting, end same-day registration, and prohibit "out-of-precinct" voting.
The changes will not take effect until the 2016 elections, the governor said in a 95-second video his office posted on YouTube.
The new law allows voters to cast a provisional ballot if they come to a polling station without proper ID. The hours to cast an early ballot remain the same, and there will be 10 days for voters to cast their ballot early.
However, the new law will not allow a person to register and vote on the same day. Other changes include an effort to reduce the “pay-to-play” culture of politics by placing additional campaign finance restrictions on lobbyists, according to the governor’s office.
Supporters of the legislation say it is meant to prevent voter fraud, which they claim is both rampant and undetected.
Critics, including Democrats and libertarians, suggested the true goal is to suppress voter turnout, especially among blacks, the young, the elderly and the poor.
North Carolina is among a number of states with GOP strongholds that have passed stricter voter identification laws, redrawn political maps fortifying Republican majorities and reduced early voting under President Barack Obama.
Such states claimed victory after the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision in June, effectively wiped out part of the landmark Voting Rights Act that required federal "preclearance" of election-law changes in all or parts of 15 mostly Southern states with a history of discrimination. The law was enacted during the 1960s to outlaw racial discrimination against voters.
That high court ruling cleared the way for North Carolina's Republican leadership to enact voting law changes without prior federal approval.
However, the Obama administration has signaled that it plans to take on some states over potentially discriminatory changes. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in July that the U.S. Justice Department would challenge a new voter identification law in Texas and previously suggested the department was closely watching developments in North Carolina and in other states.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.