(CNN) – A new voter ID law in North Carolina will end up hurting Republicans among minority voters, former Secretary of State Colin Powell told a gathering of business executives in the state Thursday.
The retired four-star general, speaking in Raleigh, made his remarks immediately following a session featuring North Carolina’s Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who was a supporter of the new voting measure and signed it into law earlier this month.
“I want to see policies that encourage every American to vote, not make it more difficult to vote,” Powell said, according to the Raleigh News and Observer.
“It immediately turns off a voting block the Republican Party needs,” Powell continued, according to the paper. “These kinds of actions do not build on the base. It just turns people away.”
CNN affiliate WTVD-TV reported that cameras were not allowed to film Powell’s remarks.
The North Carolina law, which goes into effect ahead of the 2016 elections, includes a requirement that all voters present a valid government-issued photo ID at polls. Supporters say the measure is necessary to prevent ineligible people from casting ballots, but opponents contend such laws unfairly discriminate against minority voters.
Powell argued Thursday that allegations of voter fraud were overblown.
“How can it be widespread and undetected?” he wondered.
Powell served as the nation’s top diplomat under former President George W. Bush, though he endorsed President Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012. In January, Powell said in an interview he was still a Republican, but that the party needed to rethink some of its stances after losing two presidential elections.