South Carolina Awaits Ruling on Voter ID Bill

South Carolina Awaits Ruling on Voter ID Bill

The Department of Justice could approve or reject South Carolina's new voter ID law or extend its review. Critics say the law disenfranchises elderly and minority voters.

Published August 29, 2011

South Carolina voters could learn today whether they will have to present photo IDs for the first time in order to cast ballots in future elections. The 60–day review period for its new voter ID law ends Monday and the Department of Justice is also expected to issue a decision about whether it violates the Voting Rights Act. Because South Carolina has a history of voting rights violations, it is required to submit any changes to its voting laws with the Justice Department. But, the Associated Press reports, DOJ could also have questions about the law, which is being opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the state’s League of Women Voters, and may take more time to review it.

 

The new law calls for all voters to present the following: a driver’s license or state-issued ID card, a new state voter registration card with a photo, a federal military ID or a passport. Voters who fail to do so when they turn up at the polls will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot but must produce one of the required IDs within three days or their votes will not be counted. According to state estimates, 178,000 registered voters do not have driver’s licenses. Critics of the law say that it will disenfranchise the elderly and African-Americans, for whom getting state-issued identification cards and the documentation required to get them, such as birth and marriage certificates, can be a problem.

 

On Friday, the state’s Senate Democratic Caucus also filed its objections to the law with DOJ because “the state failed to put in failsafe protections that would make sure people have a chance to vote, including added early voting time and a change in how provisional ballots are handled when voters don’t have the required identification,” according to the AP report. In addition, they are troubled that people whose licenses have been suspended may not be able to have their votes counted because the law requires current and valid photo IDs.

 

“The new Voter ID law discriminates against many voters in South Carolina, and it violates the Voting Rights Act because it disproportionately targets and affects African-American voters. We respectfully ask the Attorney General to object to this voter suppression law,” said Sen. Gerald Malloy.

(Photo: Jamie Rose/Getty Images)

Written by Joyce Jones

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