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Seeking to overturn a DOJ judgment that its voter photo identification law, passed in May 2011, violates the National Voting Rights Act (NVRA), the state of South Carolina recently announced that it is suing the Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder in federal court.
The decision by South Carolina comes as the DOJ is vigorously working to stop the spread of states enacting or implementing voter photo ID laws, prompting fears that the Obama administration is undermining the integrity of the upcoming 2012 elections.
In December 2011, the DOJ blocked South Carolina’s new voter ID law from taking effect when it determined the South Carolina law was discriminatory, citing an unfair burden on minority voters.
That unfair burden required registered South Carolina voters to produce a state-issued photo ID or a federal substitute, such as a US passport or military ID, at the polls in order to cast a ballot.
The passage of the law was prompted by a state review of voter registration rolls that found 85,000 registered voters in South Carolina lacked a photo ID issued by the state DMV, with 37,000 of those registered actually being deceased.
However, South Carolina — one of seven states in the past year and 15 overall to adopt a photo ID law intended to prevent voter fraud — is not the only state whose new law has run afoul of the Obama Justice Department.
The state of Texas has recently launched a similar suit against the DOJ over its own photo ID law, one passed by overwhelming bi-partisan support in May 2011 but which has been twice delayed by the DOJ from taking effect.
It should be noted that while the DOJ may find voter photo ID laws unconstitutional, that view hasn’t been shared by the Supreme Court. In 2008, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Indiana’s photo ID requirement when it ruled that states can require voters to produce photo identification without violating their constitutional rights.
In arguing that voter fraud in close elections would dilute the valid votes of legitimate voters, sway close elections, and negatively impact voter confidence, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority that Indiana’s voter ID law is “amply justified by the valid interest in protecting the integrity and reliability of the electoral process.”
Still, those on the left, like former President Clinton, continue to insist that forcing someone to show a photo ID in order to vote is racist and marks the return of Jim Crow. In Virginia, Democratic State Senator Mamie Locke responded to the recent passage of a photo identification law in both chambers of the state legislature by saying “This bill –and others like it — is so 1866.”
Of course, if that is true, then also apparently racist are current photo identification requirements for all Americans that include cashing checks; opening a bank account; boarding airline flights; purchasing firearms; driving automobiles; buying alcohol and tobacco products; renting/buying property; purchasing prescription drugs; applying for food stamps; applying for welfare; applying for a bank loan; applying for a job; and using a credit/debit card.
Nevertheless, liberals have complained strenuously that voter ID bills suppress the votes of minorities, the elderly, and the poor, contending that these groups are less likely to either have or be able to afford photo identification.
These same people, however, neglect to mention that every state that has passed a voter ID law has also ensured that individuals who do not have a photo ID can easily obtain one for free if they cannot afford one. In fact, South Carolina’s ID law goes as far as to state that if a voter claims to have had a “reasonable impediment” to getting a photo ID, they can vote anyway.
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