Fair Elections Legal Network Applauds Department of Justice Decision to Halt South Carolina Photo ID LawRelease Date: December 27, 2011, 3:00 am
Law Violates Voting Rights Act By Making Access to Ballot Insurmountable for Many Minority Voters
Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Department of Justice, after reviewing South Carolina’s photo ID law passed earlier this year, objected to the law as South Carolina could not meet the burden of showing the law does not discriminate against minority voters. Under the Voting Rights Act, changes in voting laws in all or part of 16 states must be cleared by the Justice Department before taking effect. South Carolina is one of the states that must have changes to its voting laws cleared by the Justice Department.
Fair Elections Legal Network’s President, Robert Brandon, released the following statement regarding the decision by the U.S. Department of Justice:
“The U.S. Department of Justice was correct in finding that South Carolina’s photo ID law is in violation of the Voting Rights Act and cannot be implemented. The photo ID law unfairly targets minority voters. As recently reported by the Associated Press, South Carolina’s photo ID law hits precincts that are heavily African-American more than other precincts that have largely white voters. In ten precincts in the state, the affect of the law falls almost exclusively on non-white voters who don’t have a state-issued driver’s license or ID card.
The decision by the Justice Department is promising as it reviews other photo ID laws passed in Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi this year. As Attorney General Eric Holder stated earlier this month, protecting access to the ballot for all eligible voters ‘must be viewed not only as a legal issue but as a moral imperative.’ We hope the Justice Department will keep this in mind as they continue to review the changes Florida has made in voter registration drives and scaling back early voting.
At Fair Elections Legal Network, we encourage South Carolina lawmakers to look at this as an opportunity to bring about positive changes in its election laws. Instead, of passing legislation that disenfranchises thousands of South Carolinian voters, they should enact laws that include allowing early voting, no-excuse absentee voting, and same day and online registration. These reforms will make voting more convenient and increase access and participation in safe, secure and representative elections.”