North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan (D) asked Attorney General Eric Holder today to review her state’s restrictive new voter identification law and “take action to protect voting rights for all North Carolinians.”
“I am deeply concerned that H.B. 589 will restrict the ability of minorities, seniors, students, the disabled, and low and middle incomes citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” Hagan wrote in a letter to Holder.
Republican Gov. Pat McCrory yesterday signed the bill, which requires that voters present photo identification at the polls, reduces by a week the amount of time they can cast early ballots before election day and also bans election-day voter registration, as well as the practice of straight-ticket voting.
“Common practices like boarding an airplane and purchasing Sudafed require photo ID,” McCrory said in a statement after signing the legislation into law. “And we should expect nothing less for the protection of our right to vote.”
Civil rights organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina Legal Foundation and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice immediately challenged the law, which is the first following the Supreme Court’s recent decision to strike down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act.
Holder has been outspoken in saying the Justice Department would continue to enforce the landmark civil rights legislation, including using Section 3 of the law, which allows federal courts to place certain jurisdictions under pre-clearance for new voting laws if they have shown a pattern of intentional discrimination.
In July, the Attorney General said the Justice Department would ask a federal judge to require Texas to receive federal approval before changing its voting laws.
Addressing the National Urban League conference in Philadelphia, he also said he has directed the Civil Rights Division to shift its resources to the enforcement of a number of federal voting laws not impacted by the Supreme Court’s decision last month striking down Section 4 of the civil rights legislation.
Holder said the Justice Department will continue monitoring jurisdictions around the country for changes, which threaten these voting rights and will take “appropriately aggressive action against any jurisdiction that attempts to hinder free and fair access to the franchise.”