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Judges next to examine broad NC voting changes

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(AP) - Judges will now decide whether an elections overhaul in North Carolina requiring photo identification to vote and scaling back early voting is discriminatory or permitted under the law.
Several groups and voters filed two lawsuits in federal court challenging the law soon after Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill Monday. Some of the same groups also planned to sue in state court soon.
Lawyers challenging the law said at a news conference Tuesday they have a strong case and the totality of changes will be horrendous for black voters. Republicans who passed the bill disagree and say provisions are similar to those in other states.
Duke University law professor Guy Charles says the plaintiffs face an uphill battle to prevail but some provisions could be hard for legislators to justify.

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Gov. Pat McCrory announced Monday that he's signed a controversial voter ID bill into law.

The Republican-supported measure includes sweeping changes in how and when people can cast their ballots in North Carolina.

Just last month, McCrory called voter ID (House Bill 589) a common sense bill, listing a slew of events and locations, including the Governor's Mansion, where an ID was needed to gain access.

In a news release, the governor said the law will help ensure the integrity of the North Carolina ballot box and provide greater equality in access to voting to North Carolinians.  

"North Carolinians overwhelmingly support a common sense law that requires voters to present photo identification in order to cast a ballot.  I am proud to sign this legislation into law. 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," said Governor McCrory.

In lieu of a formal ceremony, McCrory's press office also posted a 95-second message on YouTube giving his reasons.

Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper had written to McCrory urging him to veto the measure.

Republicans argue the legislation will prevent voter fraud, which they claim is both rampant and undetected. 

People in eastern North Carolina had mixed reactions to the signing of the law to prevent voter fraud. 

"I think it's a good idea just so that you don't have voter fraud. So, that when you go to the polls they know who you are," said James Foster.

"I believe that there is no evidence that there has been any significant voter fraud in elections up to this point; and, I believe requiring photo I. D. for the purposes of voting  places an unnecessary barrier in front of people," said Solomon Shapiro

Opponents of the bill, including non-partisan voting rights groups, Democrats and libertarians, say the true goal is to suppress voter turnout, especially among blacks, the young, the elderly and the poor.

"This is just going to make it worst for minority voters [and] not only minorities, but the poor. They are a lot less likely to have an I.D, or to have the proper kind of I.D; so, it's going to make it a lot more difficult for them," said new North Carolina resident Francisco Limon.

Polls on the subject indicate that about 75-percent of North Carolinians are in favor of the photo ID requirement, which will go into effect for the 2016 elections.

The American Civil Liberties Union said late Monday that it and two other groups had filed a lawsuit challenging the legislation.


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