North Carolina’s Republican governor is vowing to fight a lawsuit by the Justice Department challenging the state’s tough new elections law on the grounds it disproportionately excludes minority voters.
Gov. Pat McCrory said Monday he has hired a private lawyer to help defend the new law from what he suggested was a partisan attack by President Obama’s Democratic administration.
“I believe the federal government action is an overreach and without merit,” McCrory said at a brief news conference. “I firmly believe we have done the right thing. I believe this is good law.”
North Carolina’s new law cuts early voting by a week, ends same-day voter registration and includes a stringent photo ID requirement. It also eliminates a program that encouraged students to register to vote in advance of their 18th birthdays.
More than 70 percent of African-Americans who cast a ballot in North Carolina in 2008 and 2012 voted early. Studies show minority voters are also more likely not to have a driver’s license.
Attorney General Eric Holder said on Monday his agency would show in court that the intent of the law is to suppress voter turnout, especially among minority and low-income voters.
Holder said, “Allowing limits on voting rights that disproportionately exclude minority voters would be inconsistent with our ideals as a nation.”
The lawsuit, filed at U.S. District Court in Greensboro, is the latest effort by the Obama administration to counter a Supreme Court decision that struck down the most powerful part of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. The 5-4 decision handed down earlier this year freed states, many of them in the South, from strict federal oversight of their elections.