Thursday, January 5, 2012

South Carolina voter ID law rejected by feds

Associated Press December 23, 2011

Columbia, S.C. -- The Justice Department on Friday rejected South Carolina's law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls, saying it makes it harder for minorities to cast ballots. It was the first voter ID law to be refused by the Obama administration.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez said South Carolina's law didn't meet the burden under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which outlawed discriminatory practices preventing blacks from voting. Perez said tens of thousands of minorities in South Carolina might not be able to cast ballots under South Carolina's law because they don't have the right photo ID.

South Carolina's new voter ID law requires people casting ballots to show poll workers a state-issued driver's license or ID card, a U.S. military ID or a U.S. passport.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said he would fight the Justice Department in federal court. He said the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a similar law in Indiana several years ago.

The Justice Department must approve changes to South Carolina's election laws under the federal Voting Rights Act because of the state's past failure to protect the voting rights of blacks.

This article appeared on page A - 8 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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