South Carolina Voter ID Law On Hold Until After Election

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Hundreds of people rally outside the South Carolina capitol to honor the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and protest the state's voter identification law, Jan. 16, 2012 in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)

South Carolina’s voter ID law has been blocked by a panel of federal judges in Washington from taking effect in time for the 2012 election, becoming the fourth of the new Republican-backed voter ID laws to be stopped in court. Or, as Fox News reports, “Judges approve SC voter ID law, delay implementation until 2013.”

The judges concluded that the state’s voter ID law was “not enacted for a discriminatory purpose” and said that the law may be used after this year. But they ruled that implementation should be delayed “given the short time left before the 2012 elections, and given the numerous steps necessary to properly implement the law — particularly the new ‘reasonable impediment’ provision — and ensure that the law would not have discriminatory retrogressive effects on African-American voters.”

The “reasonable impediment” provision allows voters without the required photo identification to cast a ballot if they can give a good explanation for why they don’t have  it.

Because of a provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, South Carolina is one of 16 jurisdictions with a history of voter discrimination that must obtain court approval before making any changes to election law. The Justice Department blocked South Carolina’s law in December, because the state’s own statistics showed that minority voters would be disproportionately affected. The version of the law upheld by today’s ruling was modified to include such changes as the “reasonable impediment” provision.


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