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Federal Court Rejects South Carolina’s Restrictive Voter ID Law for November Election; Allows Implementation in 2013

10/10/12

(Washington, D.C) – In a significant voting rights development, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected South Carolina’s request under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act to implement its discriminatory photo identification measure in time for the November 2012 elections.

The court will allow South Carolina to implement its law in 2013.

“The court today recognized that, under such a tight time frame and with the November election quickly approaching, South Carolina’s proposed photo identification measure would be harmful to minority voters,” said Leah Aden, Assistant Counsel of the LDF's Political Participation Group. “Today, South Carolina’s joins three other states – Texas, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – whose photo ID measures have been blocked by courts.” 

“The evidence in this case compelled this conclusion,” said Ryan Haygood, Director of LDF’s Political Participation Group. “South Carolina simply could not satisfy it’s burden of showing that African American registered voters, who are nearly 20 percent more likely to lack a photo ID issued by the State’s Department of Motor Vehicles than white registered voters, would not be harmed by its proposed law in next month’s election.”

Nationally, 25% of African Americans and 16% of Latinos lack a government-issued photo ID.

In the lawsuit, LDF and pro bono by the law firm of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, LLP, represents the South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, and an African American student voter who attends Benedict College, a historically Black college in South Carolina, as Defendant-Intervenors in this case.

In the wake of this decision, particularly in the lead up to 2013 when the law goes into effect, the South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP will continue its critical efforts to protect against voter confusion and to ensure that all voters have an opportunity to cast a ballot that is counted.

Read the Opinion.