Two lawsuits were filed in federal court in North Carolina late Monday allege the state's new voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act and aims to suppress African-American voters.
The lawsuits – one by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and another filed jointly by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice – were filed late Monday, hours after the law was signed by Gov. Pat McCrory.
The new law has a multitude of effects. It requires voters to show state issued ID cards, such as a driver's license or passport, shortens early voting by a week and increases the number of poll observers who can challenge a voter's eligibility. The law marks the end of same-day registration and straight ticket voting in North Carolina.
In a statement Monday, McCrory said the law is meant to protect North Carolinians right to vote by combating the potential for voter fraud.
"Just because you haven't been robbed doesn't mean you shouldn't lock your doors at night or when you're away from home," he said. However, the lawsuits allege that the North Carolina law primarily suppresses the rights of specific groups, such as African-Americans.
"Concerns of actual or perceived voting fraud also do not justify the substantial and unprecedented restrictions on voting opportunities disproportionately used by African-Americans – including early voting, same-day registration and provisional ballots," the NAACP's lawsuit reads.
According to the ACLU, 2.5 million early voting ballots were cast by North Carolina residents during the 2012 election – more than half the total electorate. During the 2008 and 2012 general elections, more than 70 percent of African-American voters used early voting.
"This law is a disaster. Eliminating a huge part of early voting will cut off voting opportunities for hundreds of thousands of citizens and turn Election Day into mess, shoving more and more voters into even longer lines," Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, said in a released statement.
An Elon University poll released in March found 72 percent of North Carolina residents support a voter ID requirement before casting a vote. An April Survey USA poll found 58 percent of North Carolina voters strongly supported the provision, while 17 percent somewhat supported the law.
"Common practices like boarding an airplane and purchasing Sudafed require photo ID and we should expect nothing less for the protection of our right to vote," said McCrory in a released statement. "This new law brings our state in line with a healthy majority of other states throughout the country."