South Carolina’s new law requiring voters to provide a photo ID before casting a ballot violates the Voting Rights Act because of its discriminatory impact on racial minorities, which is why the Department of Justice recently prevented the law from going into effect. In response, the state now plans to sue DOJ. The Justice Department found that the law could harm the voting rights of tens of thousands of people, mostly minorities since just over a third of the state’s minorities who are registered voters did not have a driver’s license.
Under the Voting Rights Act, DOJ must approve changes in voting laws in states with discriminatory pasts, including South Carolina. State Attorney General Alan Wilson said he will file a suit against DOJ in the next week or two.
An Associated Press study showed that the voter ID law would hurt black precincts the most in South Carolina, but Wilson disagreed that it would stop voters from voting, according to Reuters:
“I have heard and looked and seen no evidence of voter suppression,” Wilson said of other states that already enforce ID laws. [...]
Republican [Gov. Nikki] Haley said the Justice Department’s decision was part of a “war on South Carolina” by the federal government that included a lawsuit by the National Labor Relations Board against Boeing Co. over its new South Carolina assembly plant, and a federal judge blocking the state’s new immigration restrictions.
“If you have to show a picture ID to buy Sudafed, if you have to show a picture ID to get on a plane, you should have to show a picture ID to do that one thing that is so important to us and that is the right to vote,” Haley said. “This is common sense legislation.”
South Carolina offered one day of free rides to the Department of Motor Vehicles for people to get a free voter ID, and Haley said only 30 people took the state up on the offer. But critics argue many do not have the required documents, like a birth certificate, needed to get the ID and likely did not know about the state’s offer.
Because the administration blocked the voter ID law, it will not be in effect during South Carolina’s presidential primary on January 21.