Critics of proposed new voter photo ID law vowed Thursday to launch a vigorous effort to fight the proposal, saying it amounted to a 21st century version of the poll tax used to keep blacks from voting.
The state NAACP lead a coalition of groups said they planned to contest a voter ID bill in the legislature even though it is clear that the Republican majority has the votes to pass it and that GOP Gov. Pat McCrory has said he will sign it.
“We will fight them in the courts, we fight them in the streets, and voters will fight them by turning out and voting,” said Penda Hair, co-director of the Advancement Project, a major national civil rights group that is legally challenging voter ID laws across the country. She described North Carolina as “ground zero” in the national fight.
The Rev. William Barber, president of the state NAACP, rejected Republican arguments that the requirement for a photo ID at the polls was designed to protect the vote from fraud. He said North Carolinians have been voting 237 years without requiring a photo ID, and that the push for a new law, was a conservative backlash against increased black voter registration that grew out of the 2008 presidential campaign of Barack Obama.
“What is going on here is a large number of African-Americans, Latinos and students who came into the electorate have scared people, have changed the electoral process,” Barber said. “And the only way to stop is to try to put up barricades. To cheat.''
He said expected the Republican legislature to also push other bills to restrict voter franchise, such as limit early voting, Sunday voting, sand same day voter registration.