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Civil Rights and Race Relations in America and Their Impact on the Lives of African Americans
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(Washington, D.C.) The week-long trial before a three-judge federal court begins on Monday, August 27th in South Carolina v. United States, a case involving South Carolina’s restrictive photo identification law. The trial begins at 9 a.m. in Courtroom 28A (6th Floor) at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, 333 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.
In the lawsuit, South Carolina asks a federal court to allow it to implement, under the Section 5 preclearance provision of the Voting Rights Act, its restrictive photo ID law in time for the upcoming November election.
South Carolina’s photo ID law, which only allows for the use of only a limited number of photo IDs when voting in-person at the polls, was previously rejected by the United States Department of Justice.
“As the Department of Justice previously recognized, South Carolina’s proposed photo identification measure would be harmful to minority voters,” said Leah Aden, Assistant Counsel of the Political Participation Group at LDF. “According to South Carolina’s own data, minority registered voters were nearly 20 percent more likely to lack a photo ID issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles than white registered voters, and thus to be effectively disfranchised by the state’s proposed requirements. Indeed, there are more than 80,000 registered minority citizens in South Carolina who lack a DMV-issued photo ID.”
Nationally, 25% of African Americans and 16% of Latinos lack a government-issued photo ID.
“Without the protections of the Voting Rights Act, it would be exceedingly difficult to stop South Carolina’s discriminatory photo ID measure. South Carolina’s photo ID law is yet another example of why Section 5 is still needed to protect minority voting rights,” said Ryan Haygood, Director of the Political Participation Group at LDF.
In the lawsuit, LDF 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.
South Carolina purportedly enacted its voter photo ID law to detect and deter in-person voter impersonation and enhance voter confidence in the electoral process. However, South Carolina has not advanced any specific or credible evidence of voter impersonation fraud in South Carolina.
“South Carolina’s photo ID measure is a solution in search of a problem. Credible studies show that one is more likely to be struck by lightning than to perceive an instance of in-person voter fraud. The trial will make clear that the state’s proposed photo identification measure will have a significant impact on its minority voters,” said Ryan Haygood.
South Carolina’s voter ID law is part of an assault that is being waged on the voting rights of people of color, recently chronicled in LDF’s report Defending Democracy: Confronting Modern Barriers to Voting Rights in America, available by clicking here.