South Carolina will recoup “tens of thousands of dollars” of the $3.5 million it spent to sue the federal government over the state’s controversial voter ID law, according to a spokesman for S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson. Wilson told a legislative panel Friday the total price tag for the state’s lawsuit was $3.5 million – more than three times his original estimate. Lawmakers on the Joint Other Funds Committee then approved a $2 million budget adjustment for Wilson’s office to pay for the lawsuit. But late Friday, a federal three-judge panel ruled that, because South Carolina was “the prevailing party,” the federal government had to pay some of the state’s expenses. Attorney General spokesman Mark Powell said Monday the office expects to recoup “tens of thousands of dollars.”
In October, the Attorney General’s Office asked the court to order the federal government to pay $90,379.59 of the state’s expenses. But that figure most likely will be reduced because the court specifically excluded some expenses.
The state Legislature passed a law in 2011 requiring voters to show a photo ID in order to vote. In December 2011, the U.S. Attorney General’s Office blocked the law from going into effect, saying it would disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of S.C. voters – most of whom are minorities – who do not have a photo ID. Wilson sued. In October, a three-judge panel upheld the law provided the state allows voters to opt out of the photo ID requirement by signing an affidavit that they have a “reasonable impediment” to getting a photo ID.
The state’s first election under the new voter ID law is today in Branchville, a tiny town in Orangeburg County that is electing a new mayor.