The Justice Department is requesting more information before it rules on South Carolina’s new voter ID law.
The law, which the Legislature passed in May, would require all voters to show a state-issued photo identification card before casting a ballot. Because South Carolina is covered by the federal Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department must clear any changes to the state’s election laws.
The Justice Department had 60 days to approve, reject, or request more information. The agency requested more information Monday about how South Carolina plans to enforce the law. Federal officials said they did not receive enough input from the State Elections Commission on its plans to educate voters and elections officials about the law’s changes. It also wants to know what the state will do to help those voters who are currently registered to vote, but do not have a birth certificate.
Justice Department officials also wanted to know what South Carolina’s own Attorney General’s Office meant when it wrote two weeks ago that the law’s enforcement could be delayed if there were a “reasonable impediment” for voters.
Once South Carolina answers, the 60-day clock starts over again. The lack of action taken by the Justice Department makes it unlikely any elections in the next two months will fall under the new law, even if it is approved.
State Democrats continued their efforts against the law Monday. Senate Democrats filed an official objection with the Justice Department Friday. They say they are concerned the law would disenfranchise tens of thousands of poor and elderly South Carolinians who do not have a driver’s license or birth certificate.
Sen. Gerald Malloy (D-Darlington) attacked the law’s timing– first proposed after African-Americans turned out in droves to elect President Obama in 2008.
“About 81 percent of the registered (African-American) voters voted,” Malloy said in an appearance on MSNBC Monday, “And then, all of a sudden when the legislative session started, we had voter ID. Seems more than coincidence.”