Thursday night, North Carolina lawmakers passed a restrictive voter ID law that will either disenfranchise thousands of citizens or protect the electoral process from voter fraud, depending who you ask.
Critics say that the law -- like many similar measures cropping up around the country -- will effectively take away the ballot from people who tend to vote Democrat, especially minorities, low-income people and students. Backers insist that voter fraud, not disenfranchisement, is the real threat to democracy.
So which does more damage –- fraud or the laws that are supposed to stamp it out?
According to the state's analysis, about 115,000 registered North Carolina voters who cast a ballot in 2012, lack the kind of ID required by the law.
By comparison, 121 alleged voter fraud cases were referred to the state's district attorneys that year.
As big as this gap is, the number of registered voters who lack the required ID more than doubles when those who didn't cast a ballot in 2012 are included.
And the measure doesn't just affect those without IDs. Described by the election expert Rick Hasen as “the most sweeping anti-voter law in at least decades,” it ends pre-registration drives for 16- and 17-year-olds, cuts back early voting hours by a week and ends same-day voter registration.
The bill is now headed to the governor's office, where it is expected to be signed. Conservatives will hail this as a victory in the fight against fraud. Critics see different motives at work.
"Move aside Florida," Ari Berman wrote in The Nation. "North Carolina is now the new poster child for voter suppression."