N.C. voters heading to polls face strict new voter ID law

RALEIGH, N.C. -- In North Carolina, thousands faced being turned away from the polls if they didn't have enough identification to meet the state's strict voter ID law.

The law was passed even though voter fraud is almost unknown there. Opponents say the law is meant to silence minority voters.

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Maria Sanchez-Thorpe CBS News

As North Carolinians voted Tuesday morning, Maria Delcarmen Sanchez-Thorpe woke up worried.

"I will need to present a valid North Carolina ID," she said. "If I'm anxious, I can't imagine how many people may not even show up."

She's 58 years old, and a U.S. citizen born in Cuba. All her legal photo IDs, including her passport and driver's license, say "Sanchez" -- her maiden name.

"That's the problem, because my board of registrations still has my married name. I've been voting as Maria Sanchez-Thorpe."

Sanchez-Thorpe says Latinos, culturally, often use multiple last names -- with sometimes conflicting IDs.

North Carolina estimates 225,000 of its voters may not have a valid driver's license. Of the eleven states with record black voter turnout in 2008, seven have enacted stricter voter ID laws, including North Carolina.

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CBS News

"These laws are a backlash against increasing participation by new voters in the political process," said Wendy Weiser, who studies elections at NYU's law school.

But Republican state Representative David Lewis supports the law, but he wasn't sure how many documented cases of voter fraud there have been in North Carolina.

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Representative David Lewis CBS News

"We don't know how widespread that may be or not be," he said, "but isn't the integrity of our republic worth maintaining that somebody is who they say they are?"

Sanchez-Thorpe did get to vote on Tuesday. But by mid-afternoon, election officials said about 1,000 voters without valid IDs had to cast provisional ballots, which means they need to be verified before the votes can be counted.

  • Mark Strassmann
    Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.