Gov. Pat McCrory strongly defended his signing of the voter identification bill Tuesday in a seven-minute appearance on an NPR program that included some sharp questions for McCrory.
McCrory signed House Bill 589 on Monday. His statement then called requiring a photo ID popular with North Carolinians, and he called the move a "common sense" measure.
But reaction was swift. Two groups, one led by the ACLU and the other by the NAACP, announced Monday that they had filed lawsuits.
And on Tuesday, Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said he was "appalled" that McCrory signed the measure, which he had urged McCrory to veto. Cooper pointed out that the legislation, which runs 47 pages, involves multiple issues that go beyond voter ID, and that his office will face costly litigation to defend the measures.
McCrory went on the offensive on the "Here and Now" program, which aired Tuesday afternoon. He called some of the NAACP's criticisms of the law "totally false" and said preregistering high school students to vote was costly. He also said there were "no statistics" to back those who say the new law benefits Republicans and hurts Democrats.
Here is a summary of what McCrory said:
Why does North Carolina need a voter ID bill when there is almost no evidence of voter fraud?
"The fact of the matter of is we aren't looking for voter fraud. We never really have. If we're naïve enough to think there's not voter fraud in the 10th largest state in the United States of America, then I think we've had our head in the sand, especially when you have tens of millions of dollars being spent on gubernatorial and presidential elections in our state.
"And we have loopholes in our voting laws, which frankly allow people to vote once or twice or even more because we don't have restrictions that 34 states do have. Thirty-four states currently require some sort of identification, and so we are doing what the majority of states are doing right now throughout the United States of America. …
"We know there are major loopholes. And we have had major campaign violations even by my predecessors running for governor. … We have to make sure we do everything we can to make sure there isn't voter fraud and that one vote is one person voting. Without the photo ID, there is no guarantee that the person voting is actually the person registered to vote.
How do you respond to criticism in the national press?
"I'm not sure where this national media is saying we have the most restrictive laws," he said. "We're requiring the same identification that you need to get almost any government services, including food stamps, including a tattoo in North Carolina, including Sudafed in North Carolina."
What about the 318,000 voters in North Carolina, many of whom are poor, who don't have a photo ID?
"First of all, we dispute some of those numbers. But we are offering free IDs at DMVs, and this law is not going to be enacted for another three and a half years. So people have plenty of time to get an ID."
The North Carolina NAACP has called the new law a modern poll tax. How do you respond?
"That's totally false and the rhetoric is misleading. It's offensive to me that they even compare the two, because then they are saying 34 other states are doing the same thing. And where they have voter ID, the election turnout actually increased in many states. And this is not just in the South, this is throughout in the Midwest and the North. …
"We also closed some loopholes, where lobbyists don't get to bundle money anymore, and we're cleaning up some of the corruption that frankly has existed in North Carolina politics in the past."
Why does the new law not allow high school students to preregister?
"We're one of 43 states that does not allow underage voters to preregister because it was costing more and, frankly, we think students can do that themselves just like any other age group.
"By the way, we also have a program where when you get a driver's license, you can sign up to vote in North Carolina."
Overall, the moves appear to be good for Republicans and bad for Democrats. How do you respond?
"There are absolutely no statistics that back that up. What you should be asking is, 'Why would people be against having a basic photo ID?'
"We've got to make sure every vote counts, and that's exactly what we are doing. We're kind of surprised by the very strong rhetoric from the left that is trying to deny the protection of voting."
Do you expect the United States Department of Justice to challenge this?
"I don't know. We've heard that people have asked him to challenge it and of course he has every right to do it. But if he challenges North Carolina voter ID laws, then he'll probably have to challenge at least 34 other states that are basically doing the same thing. I don't know what his legal standing would be to do that. We are offering free IDs, we're giving three years notice. We have several different forms of identification available."