Raleigh, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory has taken to the pages of national newspaper USA Today to defend himself against a critical editorial by the paper.
"As part of a package of plainly discriminatory voting restrictions, North Carolina cut its early voting from 17 days to 10, ostensibly to save money. Considering that 70 percent of blacks in the state voted early last year, according to the ACLU, the real motive isn't hard to deduce," the paper's editorial board wrote in a column criticizing voting rights restrictions in several states.
"Advocates of voter restrictions often justify them by saying it's an outrage when even one ineligible voter casts a vote. But it's even more outrageous when eligible voters are denied their most fundamental right. There's a reasonable middle ground, but it won't be found by mimicking tactics of the segregated '60s," the editorial concluded.
The changes in North Carolina law aren't limited to the requirement that voters show a current, valid, government-issued photo ID, beginning in 2016. The bill McCrory signed into law also cuts the early voting period from 17 days to 10, taking one of two weekends away and leaving only a single Sunday for "Souls to the Polls" drives popular with black churches.
The new law also bans same-day registration, pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds and partial ballot voting for voters who show up at the wrong precinct on Election Day. It also requires counties using electronic voting systems to purchase new or add-on technology to produce a paper ballot. That could mean fewer machines on Election Day in many North Carolina counties.
McCrory didn't address the additional restrictions in his responding op-ed, sticking to voter ID with the same comparisons he's been using since his last campaign.
"In 2016, photo ID will be required to vote in North Carolina, just as it is today when citizens cash a check, apply for government benefits or even when buying cold remedies such as Sudafed," McCrory wrote.
He also used the opportunity to respond to critics like former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who openly criticized McCrory and ridiculed claims of widespread voter fraud in a Raleigh speech last week.
"The need for photo ID has been questioned by those who say voter fraud isn't a problem in North Carolina. However, assuming fraud isn't a threat when multimillion-dollar campaigns are trying to win in a state where millions of votes are cast is like believing oversight isn't needed against Wall Street insider trading," McCrory wrote in his op-ed.