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NAACP says voting reform law is about more than voter ID

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N.C. NAACP president Rev. William Barber said the election reform law is about more than just voter ID. N.C. NAACP president Rev. William Barber said the election reform law is about more than just voter ID.
DURHAM, N.C. -

The president of the North Carolina NAACP says the election reform law signed by Gov. Pat McCrory in July is about more than just the law's voter ID provision.

On Monday, United States Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department will sue the state for alleged racial discrimination over its election reform law, also known as the Voter Information Verification Act.

Holder said the lawsuit will be filed in the middle district of North Carolina.

But McCrory was quick to rebut the challenge, saying the state will stand its ground and fight the lawsuit. He argued that he saw a video of President Barack Obama voting in Chicago and presenting an ID.

"I believe if showing a voter ID is good enough for our own president in Illinois, it's good enough for North Carolina," McCrory said.

N.C. NAACP president Rev. William Barber, however, said the law is about more than just voter ID.

"This is about voter suppression," Barber said Monday. "This is about fundamentally rewriting and restructuring voting rights and access to voting for citizens across this state."

During a noon press conference Monday, Holder said that according to North Carolina's own statistics, about 70 percent of blacks voted early in the 2008 and 2012 general elections.

"We will show they were discriminatory both in intent and in impact," Holder said.

Barber echoed Holder's statistics, explaining, "When you look at the fact that 40 to 45 percent of African Americans use same-day registration, then what happens is you see a disproportion.

"While it has this disparaged, discriminatory and intentional impact among African Americans, all North Carolinians should be concerned about it."

Still, Sen. Rick Gunn (R-District 24) explained that the law will not affect any North Carolina citizen's right to vote, saying that the law is "fair and it is consistent with other areas of our country."

"If anything, by extending the voter time on off hours, it should give other people the chance to actually get out to vote," Gunn said.

State Republican leaders have argued the need for voter ID to curb voter fraud, but Holder said there was little evidence of voter fraud in the state. WNCN reported in July that of the nearly 7 million ballots cast in the general and two primary elections in 2012, the state Board of Elections said 121 alleged cases of voter fraud were referred to the appropriate district attorney's office.

"It's not about voter fraud. Never has been any evidence of that," Barber said. "That was the distortion, the fraud, that set up passing this manipulative bill."

In addition to the voter ID requirement, election reform law cuts early voting by a week, ends same-day voter registration and eliminates a popular high school civics program that encouraged students to register to vote in advance of their 18th birthdays.

North Carolina Central University freshman Heather Bumpus said the early voting and same-day registration provisions will have the greatest implication on college-aged voters.

"I don't agree with it because a lot of people are too busy to pre-register, so it will hinder them in putting their voice out there," Bumpus said.

Junior Crystal Hart agreed, saying, "I believe if you don't have knowledge of that, it will affect you because you'll go and vote and won't be able to."

The NAACP filed a lawsuit last month similar to the one the federal government announced Monday.

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Justin Quesinberry

Justin is a reporter for WNCN and a North Carolina native. He has spent the better part of the last decade covering the news in central North Carolina.  More>>

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