The North Carolina General Assembly convened in a lame-duck session to push through voter ID legislation, among other measures, before Republicans lose a veto-proof supermajority next month. But hundreds of citizens were not going to let them restrict voting rights without a fight, crowding the streets and circling the legislative concord holding signs and chanting.

“This is not just a fight about black people,” said the Bishop William J. Barber II at a press conference before the session. “This is a fight about all of us, and when you touch black people, you touch all of us, and that means all of us will stand together.”

Earlier this month, 55 percent of North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment calling for voter ID, one of four proposed amendments passed during the midterm elections. Voters rejected changes to judicial appointments and a bipartisan elections board that would have stripped the powers of the governor to make such appointments. 

Federal courts struck down the state’s previous GOP-passed law mandating that voters have identification, ruling that it targeted black voters—who overwhelming back Democrats—with “almost surgical precision.”  

“Intentionally disenfranchising voters of color to ensure political gains for your own dwindling and obsolescent group is the height of fraud,” said North Carolina NAACP president Reverend Anthony T. Spearman. 

The amendment that voters passed simply requires citizens to show a photo ID at the polls. However, what kinds of identification will be acceptable, and what accommodations might be made for those who cannot access an ID, remain unclear: When it put the amendment on the ballot, lawmakers did not pass so-called implementing legislation spelling out the details. That will have to be worked out over the next week during the lame-duck session. 

Draft legislation filed by Senate Democrats would allow voters to use any form of valid photo ID, including public and private college IDs, even if they are expired. This, along with expanded early voting hours, may be the best-case scenario, says state representative Marcia Morey, who led the Nix All Six amendments campaign. 

The Republicans’ draft legislation, unveiled last week, would require IDs that are “valid and unexpired,” including IDs from colleges affiliated with the UNC system. Voters who lack ID would be required to fill out a provisional ballot, which would only be counted if the voter then presented an ID to the county board of elections before canvassing. The only exceptions would be for voters who swear in an affidavit stating that they have a religious objection to being photographed or that they have a “reasonable impediment” that prevents them from obtaining an ID. 

North Carolina Republicans have long argued that voter ID is necessary to combat voter fraud. However, a state analysis of the 2016 election found that voter ID, had it not been struck down by the courts, would have prevented one illicit vote out of nearly 4.8 million cast. Researchers have found, however, that strict voter ID laws have a disparate racial effect—meaning, they affect minority communities more than whites—as well as a disparate effect on older and college voters, though it’s unclear the degree to which the laws have affected overall turnout

The protesters who gathered outside the legislative building Tuesday were suspicious of lawmakers’ motives. 

Wearing a pink pussy hat and holding a “Lame Ducks Go Home” sign, Sally Johnson was one of the hundreds of citizens that crowded the rotunda. She called the session “underhanded.” “It’s a last-ditch effort to suppress voter rights,” Johnson said. 

“We want to make sure our rights are not taken from us,” added Alice Wieting. “If there’s going to be voter ID, it needs to be free and easy for people.”