Federal court rules that SC photo ID law does not, in fact, require photo ID

Oct. 10, 2012
Contact: Brett Bursey, Director SC Progressive Network, 803-808-3384,network@scpronet.com

Federal court rules that SC photo ID law does not, in fact, require photo ID

Following today's federal court ruling that approved a substantially modified version South Carolina's voter ID law, 
SC Progressive Network Director Brett Bursey called the venture "very expensive theater."

The ruling begins by noting "South Carolina's new (photo ID) law...does not require a photo ID to vote."

District Court Judge Bates noted in his concurring opinion, "Act 54 as now pre-cleared is not the Act 54 that was enacted in May 2011," when signed by Gov. Nikki Haley.

While the Court acknowledged 
"an absence of recorded incidents of in-person voter fraud in South Carolina," it found that "preventing voter fraud and increasing electoral confidence are legitimate" reasons for the modified law.

"After several years of divisive and racially charged debate on this unnecessary law, after $1 million in taxpayer money spent defending it, and several million more to implement it, our photo ID law will not require voters to have a photo ID to vote," Bursey noted.

The three-judge panel changed the original law, which allowed a voter to claim a "reasonable impediment" to not having a photo ID and left to the county board of elections to determine if the reason was legitimate. Today's ruling said the reason a voter does not have a photo ID "is to be determined by the individual voter, not the poll manager or county board. So long as the reason given by the voter is not a lie, an individual voter may express any one of of the many conceivable reasons why he or she has not obtained a photo ID."

Voters without proper ID will be required to vote a provisional ballot, but the court ruled that this ballot must be counted unless it can be proved that the voter lied about why they had no photo ID. 

"This charade was political theater, and today's court ruling basically gutted the requirement to have a photo ID to vote. The grandstanding on this issue by the governor and the Republican majority of the legislature will burden taxpayers, voters and election workers, and is an indictment of rigid partisan politics," Bursey said.

The court ruled that the modified version of the law cannot go into effect until 2013.


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