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The Daily Tar Heel

Federal preapproval bill to exclude N.C. voter ID law

A bill introduced in Congress earlier this month would redefine which states need federal preapproval of their voting laws, excluding North Carolina from the list.

Laws that require a photo ID to vote, like North Carolina’s, would not be considered a violation.

The bill’s updated criteria would subject any state that has committed five or more voting rights violations in the past 15 years to federal preapproval of its voting laws.

A press release earlier this month from the N.C. chapter of the NAACP deemed the bill too lenient because North Carolina’s voter ID law would not be included as a violation under the new provision, and the state would not have to get federal preapproval before passing new voting laws.

“Any voting rights proposal which does not recognize and address the widespread voting suppression efforts presently occurring in North Carolina is defective,” the release said.

Still, Robert Nunnery, president of the UNC-system Association of Student Governments and a senior at UNC-Pembroke, said the new legislation has a balanced tone that appeals to both sides of the political aisle.

Mitch Kokai, a political analyst for the conservative John Locke Foundation, said the bill’s bipartisan backing will increase its chances of success in Congress.

“Congress has been so polarized that it has been very hard for anything that has been seen as partisan to get through both chambers,” he said.

Kokai said the bill was introduced in direct response to the Supreme Court’s decision last summer, which struck down the provision due to its reliance on decades-old data.

“The members of Congress who came up with this plan are responding directly to an invitation from the Supreme Court to update the rules and come up with a better way of dealing with these issues,” Kokai said.

Hannah Smith, a spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., said Hagan is still reviewing the bill and has not officially announced her position on it yet. Smith said Hagan has a long history of working to protect voters’ rights in North Carolina.

After Gov. Pat McCrory signed the voter ID requirements into law last summer, Hagan sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urging him to take action on the bill.

“Protecting the fundamental right of our citizens to vote should be among the federal government’s highest priorities,” Hagan said in the letter.

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