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The Daily Tar Heel

Advocates challenge voting restrictions in NC

The N.C. American Civil Liberties Union and other groups are asking a federal judge to put the Voter Information Verification Act, passed by the Republican-led N.C. General Assembly in 2013, on hold.

Starting in 2016, North Carolina will require the presentation of government-issued, in-state photo identification to cast a vote. The 2013 voting act also shortened the early voting period by a week and ended same-day registration, both effective for the 2014 primaries.

The hearing for the preliminary injunction — the technical term for putting the law on hold — will take place July 7, said N.C. ACLU spokesman Mike Meno.

The injunction would prevent the voting restrictions from applying until after lawsuits filed by the ACLU and other groups can go to court in summer 2015.

“It would be very tragic if these voter suppression measures were in place only to be found unconstitutional after the fact,” Meno said.

Over a million votes were cast in the 2014 primaries — about 17 percent more than in the primaries for 2010, the last non-presidential election year.

Peter McClelland, a rising UNC senior and executive director of the N.C. Federation of College Republicans, said he thinks the new voting measures are entirely constitutional and brings accountability to the voting system.

Despite the shortened early voting period, early voters in Orange County were almost twice as high in 2014 — 5,739 early votes compared to 2,420 — than for primaries in 2010, the last non-presidential election year.

“We can move forward knowing that we haven’t put an undue burden on our voters,” McClelland said. “We can move forward knowing that we have integrity in our voting system.”

According to a study released by the state Board of Elections in April, there were 765 North Carolinians who voted in the 2012 elections and had names, birth dates and final four social security number digits that matched voters in other states.

The board has not found conclusive evidence of voter fraud in those 765 instances, though the investigation is still ongoing.

Rising senior and president of the UNC Young Democrats Wilson Parker said voter fraud is not a problem in the state, and he thinks the law disproportionately affects students.

“I don’t understand why our state is spending millions of dollars to make it harder for people across North Carolina to vote in order to confront a problem that there is literally no evidence that it exists,” Parker said.

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