South Carolina Senate Democrats said Friday they’ve asked the U.S. Justice Department to reject a new state law requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification before they vote. The protest filed by the Senate Minority Caucus comes just days before a Justice Department could release a decision on whether the agency will allow the law to go into effect.
Democrats call the new law the nation’s most restrictive and say it targets a state where blacks voted in equal percentages to whites for the first time in 2008. The new law stands to disenfranchise black and elderly voters, said State Sen. Gerald Malloy, a Hartsville Democrat. “How does our law — which would be the most restrictive in the nation — not abridge the right to vote on account of race?” Malloy said.
The new law requires voters to show a South Carolina driver’s license or state-issued ID card; a new state voter registration card with a photo; a federal military ID or a passport. People who lack those photo IDs will be able to cast a provisional ballot, but will have to produce the ID within three days for those votes to count.
South Carolina’s law is tougher than other states because it requires a valid and current ID, Malloy said. That means people who haven’t paid a ticket and had a license suspended wouldn’t be able to use a driver’s license to prove who they are at the polling place, he said.