Raleigh, N.C. — Members and friends of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP gathered in downtown Raleigh Sunday to commemorate a bloody civil rights era event and rally against new laws they say would unfairly crimp the voting power of black Americans.
The rally in Raleigh was one of several across the state designed to remember Bloody Sunday.
That's the day 48 years ago this month when peaceful demonstrators were beaten by Alabama state troopers as they started a non-violent protest march.
The demonstrations that built from that bloody event ultimately led to the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
NAACP President Rev. William Barber said the bill state legislators are planning to draft that would require voters to show identification at polling sites is a form of voter suppression.
"You cannot pass any law that impedes, slows people down," Barber said. "We find ourselves now that Raleigh and the General Assembly is our new Selma."
NAACP officials say the elderly, the poor and some students without identification will lose their vote in order to protect against voter fraud they believe doesn't exist.
"The fact that there has only been one case of identity fraud out of millions of voters in the last few years," Barber said. "They caught that person."
Rep. Tom Murry, a Republican from Wake County, said requiring people to show ID at the polls will increase the integrity of the voting process.
"Prosecuted voter fraud is not the same as absence of voter fraud," he said. "There is a reason why it's fraud. It's stealing. People who are really good at it are harder to catch."
Murry says he and other lawmakers are working hard to find ways to make photo IDs accessible to all voters.
Public opinion polls regularly find high levels of support for voter ID among North Carolinians of both parties. An October WRAL News poll found 69 percent of registered voters would like to see a photo ID requirement put in place.
A February Elon University Poll found support for voter ID at 72 percent statewide, with more than half of all Democrats and 92 percent of Republicans backing the idea.