In a move that could influence next year's presidential election in North Carolina, Democratic Gov. Bev. Perdue vetoed a bill Thursday that would have required voters to show a photo ID.
Republicans hailed the bill as a common-sense way to ensure against fraud. Critics said it would suppress voter turnout, particularly among students, African-Americans and elderly people, calling it a modern-day poll tax.
"We must always be vigilant in protecting the integrity of our elections," Perdue said in a statement. "But requiring every voter to present a government-issued photo ID is not the way to do it."
Perdue said the bill would "unfairly disenfranchise" voters.
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Republicans roundly criticized the move. It's unclear whether they can override the veto.
"We shouldn't be surprised by how far the governor will go to score political points with the liberal wing of her party," Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger of Rockingham County said in a statement. "A measure that ensures voters are who they say they are is a no-brainer, and most North Carolinians agree."
A recent Elon University poll found 75 percent of North Carolinians support voter ID requirements.
The voter ID bill was the centerpiece of an array of voting legislation considered by the recently adjourned General Assembly that also weighed measures to shorten the early voting period and eliminate straight-ticket voting.
North Carolina would have joined six other states, including South Carolina, that have passed voter ID laws since January. A similar bill is pending in one other state.
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