RALEIGH, N.C. — A bill requiring North Carolina voters show photo identification before casting ballots at the polls beginning next year won final approval in the state Senate.

The voter ID bill that now goes to Gov. Roy Cooper for his signature was approved as scrutiny of possible election fraud in the 9th Congressional District intensifies. The investigation is focused on mishandling of absentee ballots.

Senate Democrats on Thursday failed to delay a vote until an election fraud investigation is complete. The Legislature’s bill deals mostly with voters showing IDs at the polls.

“We cannot claim to be addressing the real issue of voter fraud,” said Sen. Terry Van Duyn, an Asheville Democrat.

Voter ID is a long-held Republican goal. A 2013 voter ID law in North Carolina was struck down in federal court in 2016. Republicans this year put a constitutional amendment for voter ID on the ballot. It passed with about 55 percent of the vote.

Opponents have traveled to Raleigh to speak against and protest the bill. Protesters sang and carried signs in the rotunda outside the gallery soon after the 25-7 vote to approve the bill with little debate.

Cooper said last week there was no need for photo ID, and called it “wrong for our state.” He did not say whether he would veto the legislation.

An audit of 4.8 million votes cast in the 2016 election found one instance of in-person voter impersonation that could have been prevented by photo identification.

The ACLU, Equality NC and Democracy North Carolina issued statements asking Cooper to veto the measure. In their letter, the ACLU and Equality NC objected to the bill being “rushed through a lame-duck Legislature,” and said the provisions would “discriminate against and disenfranchise marginalized voters.”

Cooper’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Under the bill, driver’s licenses, passports, military and veteran IDs, tribal enrollment cards, college student IDs, municipal and state employee IDs, or ID cards the DMV issues to non-drivers could be used to vote. The law establishes a new type of ID that county boards of election would issue.

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©2018 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

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PHOTO (for help with images, contact 312-222-4194): Roy Cooper

Copyright 2018 Tribune Content Agency.

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