BURLINGTON, N.C. — Despite backlash from around the country and as shown through demonstrations in the state, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed into law House Bill 589 on Aug. 12, known more commonly as the ‘Voter ID Law.’
While the governor has stated that the new law will protect the state from voter fraud, critics say it “reverses crucial reforms designed to help protect the rights of African-Americans, young people and the poor,” according to NPR. McCrory also recently wrote an editorial for USA Today, defending his decision.
The new law reduces early voting by a week, gets rid of same-day registration and ends pre-registration for 16 and 17-year olds, among other new stipulations for voters.
The law will also require voters to show government-issued photo identification, including a driver’s license, veteran’s ID or passport, and no longer accepts student IDs as a valid form of identification to vote in the state. College students must now present a valid N.C. driver’s license or passport in order to vote, according to the House of Representatives outline of the law.
Press Millen, partner at the law firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice in downtown Raleigh, said that students should be thinking about this act as it concerns them greatly.
“Many students don’t have N.C. licenses,” Millen said. “There are only 7 forms of ID that are accepted to vote and a student ID from a private or public university doesn’t work. Therefore, most university students in N.C. won’t vote unless they have a passport.”
Womble Carlyle and Millen are currently suing the state because of the Voter ID bill. Their clients are two university students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who are currently registered to vote in the state, but because of the legislation, no longer can vote because they do not have proper identification.
Christie Cameron, Clerk of the N.C. Supreme Court, said she could not comment on the story because, as she pointed out, the law could be passed to the state Supreme Court.
While many do oppose the bill, some agree with its intentions, but with some conditions attached.
“As long as North Carolina makes it possible for people without the proper ID to get it somehow, then I am for the bill,” said Carolynn Whitley, program assistant in political science, religious studies and philosophy at Elon University.
Whitley is a native-born N.C. resident and hopes students will still be able to vote with no problem.
However, many students at Elon have the potential to be affected by this act, including Elon’s large out-of-state student population.
Freshman Gabriela Alvarez from Virginia said she was ready to switch her voter registration to N.C. until she heard more about the bill. She believes that students should be able to register with just a drivers license.
However, she now does not know if she will register to vote in N.C. at all.
“Wouldn’t it just be easier to register for an absentee ballot in Virginia?” Alvarez said. “(Students) are still citizens. It’s our right to vote. It’s part of our civic responsibility.”
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