The estimated 178,000 South Carolina voters who don’t have state-issued photo identification will be able to cast ballots in upcoming local elections despite a new ID law, according to an attorney general’s opinion released Tuesday.
Since the U.S. Justice Department has not approved the law yet, the opinion agreed with state Election Commission Executive Director Marci Andino that there isn’t enough time to educate voters about the new law before the next round of municipal elections around the state set for late August and early September.
“Such short time period is beyond the voter’s control,” deputy attorney general Robert Cook wrote in his opinion. The law, passed in May and signed by Gov. Nikki Haley, requires a driver’s license or one of several other forms of photo ID to vote.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups are asking federal officials to reject the new law because they say it will disenfranchise the state’s black and poor voters, who make up most of the registered voters without a photo ID.
There could be other snags in implementing the law even after the upcoming local elections. Andino said South Carolina won’t be ready to launch a new voter registration system that prints pictures on voter cards until mid-October and doesn’t plan to order the equipment needed until the U.S. Justice Department signs off on the voter identification requirements.
“We’re waiting to find out if we get preclearance before we spend any money,” Andino said.
A decision isn’t expected before next week and it could take longer, depending on whether the Justice Department has additional questions, Andino said.
The opinion doesn’t change how the ACLU feels about the law, said Victoria Middleton, executive director of the organization’s South Carolina chapter.
“The voter ID law, even with this opinion, remains vague, and county boards of elections are still left a great deal of discretion in counting provisional ballots cast by voters without ID. This does nothing to alleviate concern that some people’s votes won’t count,” Middleton said.
The federal government oversees changes in South Carolina’s election laws because of the state’s actions against black voters during the Civil Rights era.
The Justice Department has already asked for more details on the estimated 178,000 voters who do not have photo identification, Andino said. The state Election Commission created the list by comparing voter records and the Department of Motor Vehicles’ driver’s license and photo ID files.
Full Article: APNewsBreak: SC voter ID can be briefly delayed.