The North Carolina Senate has given preliminary approval to what some say is the most restrictive voting law in the country.
By a vote of 32-14, the GOP-controlled Senate signed off on a measure that would require photo ID at the polls, cut early voting by a week, end same-day voter registration, and abolish a popular high-school civics program that helps students register before their 18th birthdays.
For good measure, the bill also would weaken disclosure requirements for outside political spending, and let political parties collect unlimited corporate donations.
"This is immoral," said Sen. Earline Parmon, a Democrat, said on the Senate floor. "It is evil. It is unnecessary. As an African-American and as a woman, I am disgusted to be here today discussing suppressing the vote."
The Senate will conduct a final vote on the bill Thursday, which should be a formality. Then it will head to the Republican-controlled House, where it's likely to pass.
Rick Hasen, an election-law expert at the University of California, Irvine, who has a reputation as a sober and measured observer of voting controversies, wrote online that the bill is "the most sweeping anti-voter law in at least decades."
"The intent here is to make it harder for people—especially non-white people and those likely to vote Democratic–to register or cast a vote that will be counted," Hasen added.
The law's backers announced their intent to move forward soon after last month's Supreme Court ruling which struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act, which had allowed the federal government to block election changes made by certain areas if they threatened to harm racial minorities. North Carolina was partially covered under the provision.