Speaking at a CEO conference this Thursday in Raleigh N.C., former Secretary of State Colin Powell slammed a sweeping new North Carolina voting law — with the state’s GOP governor who signed the bill listening in attendance.
During his speech, Powell argued that Republicans should be courting minority voters, not driving them away at the polls. “I want to see policies that encourage every American to vote, not make it more difficult to vote,” Powell said, according to a report from The News & Observer.
“It immediately turns off a voting bloc the Republican Party needs. These kinds of actions do not build on the base. It just turns people away,” Powell added.
Powell’s comments were especially notable because North Carolina’s GOP Gov. Pat McCrory was in attendance at the conference. McCrory signed the voting bill which was passed by the GOP-controlled legislature with little media attention earlier this month. The law, which isn’t due to take effect until 2016, will require that government-issued photo IDs be presented at polls — while shortening the early voting period. The measures have come under fire from the NAACP and the ACLU for the hindering affect it will have on minority and younger voters.
North Carolina Democratic Senator Kay Hagan has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the law. According to a PPP (Public Policy Polling) survey, half of N.C. voters are opposed to the measure.
This is not the first time Colin Powell has spoken out on this issue. In January leading up to the 2012 election, Powell said that he still considers himself a Republican but was disturbed with the presence of a “dark vein of intolerance” within his party, referring to racially tinged slurs directed at President Obama along with the GOP’s tolerance of the birther movement.
Powell returned to that narrative in a major way this Thursday, saying that measures like North Carolina’s sends the wrong message to minority voters.
“What it really says to minority voters is … ‘We really are sort of punishing you,’” Powell said according to The News & Observer.