Colin Powell rips NC elections law

Posted August 22, 2013 3:12 p.m. EDT

— Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell blasted North Carolina's new elections law on Thursday, telling Gov. Pat McCrory point blank it was wrong for him to sign it.

Powell was the keynote speaker at the CEO Forum in Raleigh, and his comments came shortly after McCrory delivered the opening address to the gathering of business executives from across the state.

The sweeping law calls for voters to present photo identification at the polls, cuts the length of early voting and ends same-day registration and straight-ticket voting. It also makes changes to campaign finance and advertising regulations and sets up a separate presidential primary in February.

Powell ridiculed the notion that IDs are needed because of rampant election fraud.

"What has come out of the legislature is that fraud is widespread and undetected," he said. "How is fraud widespread if it's undetected? How can it be undetected if it's widespread?"

The moderate Republican, who worked under former President George W. Bush, said the law will ultimately hurt the GOP by pushing key groups of voters away.

Powell also defended liberal arts as an important part of education, another shot at McCrory, who said in a January radio interview that universities should focus on having their graduates employed and not on courses of study "that have no chance of getting people jobs."