Want to vote in an election in South Carolina but don’t have a photo ID? Lawyers for the state say it will be as easy as explaining why and then casting your ballot. In paperwork filed on Friday in federal court, South Carolina’s lawyers defended the state’s voting laws by saying anyone without a proper photo identification would still be allowed to vote by simply explaining what “reasonable impediment” kept them from getting an ID. The filing came after a panel of judges in Washington, D.C., quizzed the attorneys last week about what South Carolina meant by the term “reasonable impediment.” In essence, the state’s attorneys said, defining the term is up to each individual voter.
The answer comes as the judges are weighing whether to let the law go into effect. South Carolina’s lawyers said the state will implement the law, known as R54, in time for the November elections if the judges give it the green light. Closing arguments in the case will not take place until Sept. 24 and a decision isn’t likely before Oct. 1, giving the state little time to educate voters about the law.
No worries, says South Carolina. Voters who lack photo ID will be allowed to sign an affidavit stating they had a “reasonable impediment” and then will be given a provisional ballot to cast. The judges, who are examining whether the law should be precleared under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act indicated they were also worried it might be administered differently throughout the state and that the language of the law allowed state officials too much flexibility to interpret it differently.