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SC Voter ID Law Upheld




A three-judge panel has upheld South Carolina’s controverisal voter ID law … at least for now … ruling against the U.S. Department of Justice and in favor of the Palmetto State.

The ruling will permit the S.C. Election Commission (SCEC) to implement South Carolina’s new law – which requires voters to present a valid photo ID prior to casting their ballot – beginning in 2013 over the objections of those who believe the law to be racist.

South Carolina’s voter ID law was blocked by the U.S. Justice Department (USDOJ) – which retains the right to “pre-clear” such changes before they take effect given South Carolina’s less-than-stellar record of enfranchising minorities.  Justice Department lawyers reportedly didn’t find anything discriminatory or unconstitutional about the legislation – but the agency’s political appointees decided to move forward with the case anyway.

The ruling is a major political victory for S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson, who argued the case before the U.S. District Court.

“Today’s ruling by the three judge panel is a major victory for South Carolina and its election process,” Wilson said in a statement. “It affirms our voter ID law is valid and constitutional under the Voting Rights Act. The fact remains, voter ID laws do not discriminate or disenfranchise; they ensure integrity at the ballot box.”

The victory wasn’t complete, though, as the panel ruled that the Palmetto State could not implement the law during the current election cycle.

“Given the short time left before the 2012 elections, and given the numerous steps necessary to properly implement the law … we do not grant pre-clearance for the 2012 elections,” U.S. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote.

South Carolina lawmakers have appropriated more than $1 million to pay for these IDs (including a recurring cost of $100,000 each year) … but that appropriation won’t necessarily solve the problem.  You see, to obtain a photo ID in South Carolina you must first obtain a copy of your birth certificate, which the S.C. Department of Vital Statistics won’t give you unless you show them … wait for it … your photo ID.

Funny how that works, isn’t it?

FITS opposed the voter ID law on the grounds that it addressed a nonexistent problem.  We also objected to the way certain politicians – led by S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley – fabricated information in an effort to support the law.

Having said that we didn’t expend much capitol opposing the measure … merely arguing that the state had plenty of real problems lawmakers should be addressing as opposed to wasting time on such partisan legislation.

While the voter ID issue itself appears to be headed toward a resolution, no word yet on whether S.C. Rep. Alan Clemmons – the author of the bill – will face perjury charges in the wake of his testimony before the three-judge panel.  Clemmons has been accused of deliberately misrepresenting his proximity to the author of a racist email sent in support of the new law.