S.C. Voter ID law doesn't pass federal muster (Update: court starts today)
Update 8/27/12: Today the controversial South Carolina Voter ID law begins its day in court.
In a brief write-up The Sun News writes, "A three-judge federal court panel begins hearing several days of testimony on Monday." The law's expected to cost the taxpayers of South Carolina $1 million dollars.
Back in 2007, The New York Times ran a piece entitled, "In 5-Year Effort, Scant Evidence of Voter Fraud" in which they outlined a five year long investigation that the Justice Department did under the Bush administration which found,
"...virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections, according to court records and interviews."
Additionally News21.com has a post, "Comprehensive Database of U.S. Voter Fraud Uncovers No Evidence That Photo ID Is Needed" in which they write,
A News21 analysis of 2,068 alleged election-fraud cases since 2000 shows that while fraud has occurred, the rate is infinitesimal, and in-person voter impersonation on Election Day, which prompted 37 state legislatures to enact or consider tough voter ID laws, is virtually non-existent.
Their analysis turned up 10 cases of actual in-person voter impersonation. Over the past 12 years there are 146 million registered voters in the United States, that number represents "one out of about every 15 million prospective voters."
We'll keep you posted on the court proceedings.
Update 7/3/12: The Department of Justice rejected South Carolina's voter photo identification law once, and now it has done so again.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Perez wrote that South Carolina has still not made enough effort to show and ensure that the law will not have an effect that makes it more unduly hard against the state's black population.
The Associated Press has a solid report; read it here.
South Carolina still has a pending legal challenge that will be weighed in on by three federal judges that could OK the law in time for the 2012 presidential election — but state election officials have said that the new law would need to be in place no later than August 1 to allow for time to implement the new rules.
Keep up to date with the SC Voter ID drama at our Topic Page.
Update 2/8/12: As expected, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson sued President Barack Obama's administration on Tuesday, February 7, in response to the federal government blocking the much debated voter photo ID law.
South Carolina is one of six Republican lead states that passed a photo identification requirement for all voters. The law, supporters say, will help reduce voter fraud, which has not yet been shown to be a major problem in this state.
Detractors of the law say thousands will be disenfranchised for numerous reasons; the main reason cited being the huge number of elderly in South Carolina who do not have a state ID and or a birth certificate to get one due to lax record keeping practices that lasted until just 50 years ago.
The lawsuit is expected to cost South Carolina tax payers one million dollars or more. Read more on the lawsuit by heading over to The Chicago Tribune.
A potential wild card in South Carolina's lawsuit was that the Department of Justice rejected our state's law as the bill that created it required the issuing of free photo-equipped voter registration cards, something the department supported but wrote that South Carolina had yet to implement to reduce the chances of disenfranchisement.
You can check out South Carolina's full complaint in this PDF.
Meanwhile, a new bill has been proposed by Representative Alan Clemmons (R, Dist. 107 Horry County) is another that tightens voter laws by placing stiffer penalties on third party "get out and vote" groups. Civil rights groups are already protesting the new voter registration requirements. Targeting these groups raises questions due to the fact that they mostly register young voters who mostly vote Democratic and or poor and minorities who also tend to do the same.
Read the full AP write-up over at WMBF News.com
Update 1/11/12: As expected, advocates of the downed law won't appeal to the Department of Justice, but instead plan to take the matter to court.
In a press conference, Governor Nikki Haley, Attorney General Alan Wilson, House Speaker Bobby Harrell, and State Sen. Kevin Bryant made their positions that the state would not unduly disenfranchise minority voters through its implementation of the law.
Check out the video of the conference up top. The Mount Pleasant Patch also offers up a full report.
Look for more news on this in the coming days and weeks.
Update 12/27/11: One of the Representatives responsible for the S.C. voter ID law, Myrtle Beach's Alan Clemmons spoke with WMBF News about the now blocked law.
WMBF also spoke with Mickey James who represents the Myrtle Beach NAACP, the opposing side of the argument. Hop on over to WMBF News for the full story.
Below is the letter that the Department of Justice sent to the state blocking the law:
Justice Department Letter To South Carolina Blocking Voter ID Law
First Report: Remember how there was much concern about the 178,000 S.C. voters lacking photo identification to vote under the state's passed (but not yet in effect) voter ID law?
Well, that law needed approval by the federal government — and on Friday it was denied.
The S.C. State Election Commission wrote, "The U.S. Department of Justice today blocked implementation of a new law that would require South Carolina voters to present a photo ID in order to vote. Therefore, ID requirements for voting will not change at this time."
The Department of Justice was concerned that the percentage of those lacking photo identification was lopsidedly non-white and would unfairly disenfranchise minorities, writing: "Minority registered voters were nearly 20% more likely to lack DMV-issued ID than white registered voters, and thus to be effectively disenfranchised by Act R54's new requirements
"Put differently, although non-white voters comprised 30.4% of the state's registered voters, they constituted 34.2% of registered voters who did not have the requisite DMV-issued identification to vote."
The department instead encouraged the state to pursue free photo-equipped voter registration cards — something that was written into the bill but that the state has yet to finalize procedures for.
However, the state does not plan to ask the Department of Justice again for permission, instead S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson has already expressed his desire to take the department to court.
South Carolina is covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Therefore, any change to election law must be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice before it can be implemented or enforced.
Current law requires voters to present one of three items to vote at the polling place: driver's license, a S.C. ID card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles, or a voter registration card.
We'll be sure to keep you posted and you can keep up with the voter ID law saga on our topic page.
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