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Voter ID bill passes NC House

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© The Senate passed sweeping election law changes, including requiring voters to present photo ID at the polls and shortening early voting by a week. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) © The Senate passed sweeping election law changes, including requiring voters to present photo ID at the polls and shortening early voting by a week. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
RALEIGH, N.C. -

The North Carolina House passed the voter identification bill late Thursday night by a 73-41 vote, sending the controversial measure to Gov. Pat McCrory.

The Senate earlier passed sweeping election law changes, including requiring voters to present photo ID at the polls and shortening early voting by a week.

That measure headed to the House for a vote, with hours of passionate debate. Democrats have long argued that measures aren't about voter integrity but about making it more difficult to vote for constituents who tend to vote Democratic.

The measure requires a voter to have government-issued IDs that include a driver's license, non-operator ID card, tribal and military IDs and passports. The bill will be in full effect by 2016.

Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the Department of Justice may sue states that pass bills similar to North Carolina's House Bill 589. The goal would be to require states to get federal approval to implement such a law.

Some lawmakers on the Senate floor debating the bill expressed concern over the threat.

WNCN reporter Jonathan Carlson tried to approach House Speaker Thom Tillis to get his reaction to the threat of legal action against the bill and Tillis told WNCN to "talk to my legal counsel."

Tillis' staff said he would have nothing more to say on the bill until the House voted on it.
    
The measure also ends same-day voter registration and eliminates a high school civics program that encourages students to register ahead of their 18th birthday. Disclosure requirements for campaign ads are weakened and political parties can rake in unlimited corporate donations.
    
Republicans claim the measures will prevent voter fraud and restore faith in elections. Nonpartisan voting rights groups, Democrats and Libertarians say the true goal is suppressing voter turnout.

"With over 70 percent of North Carolina residents consistently supporting the implementation of a photo ID measure, this common-sense legislation responds to the majority of citizens who desire a fair and accountable election system," Tillis said in a statement. "The passage of this bill is a testament to General Assembly members' relentless efforts in working to strengthen our election system."

The changes are expected to face court challenges in advance of the 2014 and 2016 elections.

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Jonathan Carlson

Jonathan is an investigative reporter and anchor with over a decade of experience. Jonathan has broken stories that have resulted in local and statewide change. Contact our Investigative Team anytime HERE. More>>

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