Federal Court Delays S.C. Voter ID Law Until Next Year

The new voter ID law does not discriminate against Black and minority voters, court rules.

Posted: 10/10/2012 04:11 PM EDT

The move to set up new voter identification requirements before the presidential election suffered another blow on Wednesday, when a federal court ruled that newly enacted requirements in South Carolina cannot go into effect until 2013.

As a result, voters in South Carolina will not be required to present photo identification when they go to the polls next month.

In a unanimous decision by a three-judge panel, a United States District Court said that there is insufficient time between now and the Nov. 6 presidential election to implement the new requirements to be put in place.

However, the court said that South Carolina's law includes enough safeguards to ensure it will not be discriminatory against African-American and Latino voters in the state.

The court decision was just the latest in a series of rulings that have struck down or postponed new voter identification laws throughout the country. The new laws have been enacted principally by Republican-controlled legislatures in a number of states.

The Republican officials have maintained that new laws were needed to combat voter fraud. On the other hand, civil rights groups and civic organizations have countered that there has been little to no evidence of voter fraud. They have criticized the new voter identification laws saying that they were put into place to suppress the votes of Democratic-leaning groups, such as African-American, Latino and students.

“As the leading democracy in the world, our voting system should be free, fair and accessible to all eligible Americans,” said Keesha Gaskins, senior counsel in the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice in New York.

“We are pleased this law will not be rushed through close to this election, and that the judges took steps to protect the voting rights of those citizens who lack ID, ensuring access to the ballot box for many South Carolina voters.”

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(Photo: The Republican /Landov)

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