RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's Republican governor is vowing to fight a lawsuit by the U.S. 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 Barack Obama's Democratic administration.
"I believe the federal government action is an overreach and without merit," McCrory said at a brief media conference during which he took no questions. "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. The measure also eliminated a popular high school civics 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 during the past two presidential elections voted early. Studies show minority voters are also more likely to lack a driver's license.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in Washington on Monday his agency would show in court that the intent of the North Carolina law is to suppress voter turnout, especially among minority and low-income voters.
"By restricting access and ease of voter participation, this new law would shrink, rather than expand, access" to voting, 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.