North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law Monday a controversial measure that overhauls the state's election laws. It requires government-issued photo IDs at the polls, reduces the early voting period by one week and ends same day registration.
McCrory, a Republican, called it "common sense reforms," and said it will help ensure the "integrity" of the voting process. His office announced the signing in a statement, and the governor appeared in a 95-second Youtube video.
In the video, McCrory said that "photo ID has become a part of our everyday life," and reminded residents they can get a free photo ID at local Department of Motor Vehicle offices throughout the state.
To make sure everyone has enough time, he added, "photo ID won't be required until the 2016 elections."
Democrats and minority groups say the new law will suppress voting and it make it harder for minorities, the elderly and youth to cast ballots. The American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups have vowed to fight the changes.
"It is a trampling on the blood, sweat and tears of the martyrs — black and white — who fought for voting rights in this country," the Rev. William Barber, president of the state chapter of the NAACP, told The Associated Press. "It puts McCrory on the wrong side of history." The chapter has filed its own legal challenge to the measure.
NPR's Kathy Lohr reports McCory signed the bill into law just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a section of the Voting Rights Act that required North Carolina and other states to get approval from the federal government to change its election laws.
"The Justice Department is fighting a similar law in Texas and may file suit against this one," Kathy tells NPR's Newscast unit.