Alan Wilson

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South Carolina: Lawmakers seek fix for election law to avoid ‘catastrophic’ problems | The Greenville News

State lawmakers are warning that another flawed election law could make the debacle of 2012 that knocked hundreds of candidates out of primaries seem tame by comparison. Sen. Larry Martin of Pickens, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told the Senate on Wednesday that the office of state Attorney General Alan Wilson has issued an opinion concluding that a 2008 law under which most of the state’s counties combined election and voter registration boards is unconstitutional. The reason, state Solicitor General Robert Cook explained in the opinion, is that under the state’s Constitution, the Legislature is prohibited from passing laws that are customized for certain parts of the state but not others. “Act No. 312 is simply an amalgam of laws, each for a particular county,” Cook wrote.

Full Article: Lawmakers seek fix for election law to avoid 'catastrophic' problems | The Greenville News | greenvilleonline.com.

South Carolina: More election woes down the road, lawmakers warned | The State

State lawmakers are warning that another flawed election law could make the debacle of 2012 that knocked hundreds of candidates out of primaries seem tame by comparison. Sen. Larry Martin of Pickens, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told the Senate on Wednesday that the office of state Attorney General Alan Wilson has issued an opinion concluding that a 2008 law under which most of the state’s counties combined election and voter registration boards is unconstitutional. The reason, state Solicitor General Robert Cook explained in the opinion, is that under the state’s Constitution, the Legislature is prohibited from passing laws that are customized for certain parts of the state but not others. “Act No. 312 is simply an amalgam of laws, each for a particular county,” Cook wrote.

Full Article: COLUMBIA, SC: More election woes down the road, SC lawmakers warned | Politics | The State.

South Carolina: Four Pinocchios: The case of ‘zombie’ voters in South Carolina | The Washington Post

“We just recently learned that there are over 900 individuals who had died before the election (and had voted) and at least 600 of those individuals had died way outside the window that an absentee ballot could have been sent, so we know for a fact that there are deceased people whose identities are being used in elections in South Carolina.”— South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson (R), on Fox News, Jan. 21, 2012

“We found out that there were over 900 people who died and then subsequently voted. That number could be even higher than that.” — Wilson, on Fox News, Jan. 12, 2012

“Without Photo ID, let’s be clear, I don’t want dead people voting in the state of South Carolina.” — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R), in an interview that aired on Fox News, April 21, 2012

We don’t normally delve into statements so long after they were made, but this is an unusual case, brought to our attention by a reader. Take a look at the rather definitive statements made by South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, such as “we know for a fact that there are deceased people whose identities are being used in elections in South Carolina.” This was a rather shocking claim, which stemmed from allegations made by Kevin Schwedo, executive director of the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. (“Well over 900 individuals appear to have voted after they died.”) One state lawmaker famously declared: “We must have certainty in South Carolina that zombies aren’t voting.”

Full Article: The case of ‘zombie’ voters in South Carolina - The Washington Post.

South Carolina: Voting laws no longer require federal approval | The Island Packet

South Carolina and other areas with histories of discriminatory voting practices no longer need federal approval to change their voting laws — at least for now. That oversight ended Tuesday as the U.S. Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, ruling in the case of an Alabama county that sued the U.S. attorney general in 2010, arguing voting laws meant to prevent discrimination are outdated. In its 5-4 decision, the court struck down a formula that determined whether states or other jurisdictions should be required to get federal approval before making changes to their voting laws — based, in part, on their discrimination in the 1960s and ’70s.

Full Article: COLUMBIA: SC voting laws no longer require federal approval | Politics | The Island Packet.

Editorials: The cost of South Carolina’s ‘Voter ID’ law | Rock Hill Herald

South Carolina apparently will recoup “tens of thousands of dollars” spent to sue the federal government over the state’s voter ID law. But before we break out the champagne and noisemakers, we need to note that the total bill came to $3.5 million, and for what? During the 2011 legislative session, the state passed a law that ostensibly required anyone hoping to vote to produce an official photo ID of some kind. 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 South Carolina voters – mostly minorities and elderly residents who don’t have photo IDs. S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson then sued the government at a cost of $3.5 million, most of which was used to pay for outside lawyers to argue the case. That was roughly three times Wilson’s original estimate of what the case would cost.

Full Article: The cost of SC’s ‘Voter ID’ law | Editorials | Rock Hill Herald Online.

South Carolina: State will recoup ‘tens of thousands’ of $3.5 million bill for voter ID lawsuit | TheState.com

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.”

Full Article: SC will recoup ‘tens of thousands’ of $3.5 million bill for voter ID lawsuit - SC Politics - TheState.com.

South Carolina: Voter ID lawsuit cost $3.5 million | TheState.com

It cost South Carolina $3.5 million to sue the federal government over the state’s voter ID law – but the federal government will have to pay some of that bill. Late Friday, a court ruled that because South Carolina was the “prevailing party,” the federal government had to pay some of South Carolina’s expenses. A spokesman for S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson said he did not know how much money the federal government would pay South Carolina. The state has until Jan. 11 to file a revised bill with the court.

Full Article: COLUMBIA, SC - SC’s voter ID lawsuit cost $3.5 million - SC Politics - TheState.com.

South Carolina: South Carolina Voter ID Blocked In 2012, Cleared For 2013 | TPM

A panel of federal judges ruled on Wednesday that South Carolina’s new voter ID does not have a discriminatory effect, but they also blocked it from going into effect in November. A Justice Department spokeswoman said DOJ was pleased that the court blocked the law from going into effect next month and noted that the law underwent “broad modifications” during the course of the trial to allow it to comply with Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson called the ruling “a major victory for South Carolina and its elections process. It affirms our voter ID law is valid and constitutional under the Voting Rights Act. The fact remains, voter ID laws do not discriminate or disenfranchise; they ensure integrity at the ballot box,” he said in a statement. The Washington, D.C.-based panel concluded that the voter ID law was “not enacted for a discriminatory purpose” and precleared the law for any election in 2013. But it blocked the state from implementing the law this year “given the short time left before the 2012 elections, and given the numerous steps necessary to properly implement the law — particularly the new ‘reasonable impediment’ provision — and ensure that the law would not have discriminatory retrogressive effects on African-American voters.”

Full Article: South Carolina Voter ID Blocked In 2012, Cleared For 2013 | TPMMuckraker.

South Carolina: Voter ID case could close with legal fireworks | TheState.com

Closing arguments Monday about South Carolina’s voter ID law will cap an extraordinary case that already has seen charges of racism directed at the law’s author as well as federal judges’ open frustration over state officials’ changing stances on how they would enact the law. Opponents of the embattled law, which U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder blocked last year under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, will challenge the credibility of its chief author, state Rep. Allan Clemmons, R-Myrtle Beach. Lawyers for groups opposed to the voter ID law, including civil rights groups, will say Clemmons took false credit for its “reasonable impediment” clause, which allows voters to cast ballots if they have “reasonable” reasons for not having photo identification.

Full Article: WASHINGTON - SC’s voter ID case could close with legal fireworks - Presidential Campaign - TheState.com.

Editorials: Can South Carolina justify its voter ID law? | Rock Hill Herald

I doubt that S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson has the authority to enforce his generous new interpretation of South Carolina’s new voter ID law – he can merely advise election officials, who may or may not follow his legal advice – but his out-of-courtroom explanation for testimony that enraged critics and seemed to startle a panel of federal judges represented the first hint of a rational approach to this issue that I’ve heard from an elected official. After testifying last month that people without cars, birth certificates or enough time to get a state-approved photo ID would “absolutely” be able vote by signing an affidavit saying they had a “reasonable impediment,” Mr. Wilson told The Associated Press that “We have balanced the interest of ensuring the integrity of the electoral system with the fundamental right of the individual to vote.” That seems so obvious. The question isn’t whether those two fundamental values have to be balanced in a voting system; the question is how to balance them. Or at least that ought to be the question. What’s so maddening about this whole issue is that neither side has been willing to recognize any shades of gray.

Full Article: Can South Carolina justify its voter ID law? | Opinion | Rock Hill Herald Online.

Editorials: Voting Rights Act denies equal right to discriminate, says Arizona Attorney General | Examiner.com

Next week, state attorney general Alan Wilson will attempt to contest the U.S. Dept. of Justice’s rejection of South Carolina’s “voter ID” law. The case is taking a new twist, however, thanks to the AG of another state. Today, Arizona’s Thomas Horne filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, claiming that one particular part of the Voting Rights Act unfairly affects the nine states that are subject to its laws. Section Five of the Act notes that any change to voting laws in subject states must be approved by the federal government. Some other states not subject to VRA, though, have already changed their own laws pertaining to voting and didn’t require federal approval for those changes, Horne notes. Different formats of voter identification requirements are used in some of those other states, Horne notes, and the federal government didn’t interfere in those cases. Minority voters are still subject to discrimination in those states, too, he says. Because South Carolina and nine other states are the only ones subject to the Voting Rights Act, Horne concludes, it has unfairly lost its own right to discriminate. Section Five of the VRA “undermines the principal of equal sovereignty,” he says.

Full Article: Voting Rights Act denies equal right to discriminate, says Ariz Attorney Gen - Charleston Charleston Democrat | Examiner.com.

South Carolina: Court schedule tightens window for new voter ID | TheState.com

A revised timetable for a federal lawsuit over South Carolina’s voter ID law would make it harder for the new state requirements to impact the Nov. 6 general election. On Tuesday, the judges who will consider the case rescheduled oral arguments for September 24. That’s nearly two months later than originally planned – and is also more than a week after the deadline by which state officials have said they would need a decision in order to prepare to implement the law this year. The three-judge panel doesn’t forecast when it might rule in the case. But state prosecutors say they’ll need a determination by September 15 in order to have enough time to make sure people understand the requirements. In December, the federal government blocked South Carolina’s photo ID requirement in December, saying it could keep tens of thousands of the state’s minorities from casting ballots and failed to meet requirements of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which requires approval from that agency for changes to South Carolina’s election laws because of the state’s past failure to protect blacks’ voting rights.

Full Article: Court schedule tightens window for new SC voter ID - State & Regional - TheState.com.

South Carolina: Justice Department again nixes voter ID law | Rock Hill Herald

The U.S. Justice Department has turned down South Carolina’s voter identification law for a second time as the state’s lawsuit against the federal government moves forward. “I remain unable to conclude that the State of South Carolina has carried its burden of showing that the submitted change in Section 5 of Act R54 neither has a discriminatory purpose nor will have a discriminatory effect,” Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez wrote in a letter Friday to an attorney representing South Carolina in its lawsuit against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson sued Holder after the federal government blocked South Carolina’s photo ID requirement in December, saying it could keep tens of thousands of the state’s minorities from casting ballots. It was the first such law to be refused by the federal agency in nearly 20 years. The Justice Department has said the law failed to meet requirements of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which requires approval from that agency for changes to South Carolina’s election laws because of the state’s past failure to protect blacks’ voting rights.

Full Article: COLUMBIA, S.C.: US Justice Department again nixes SC voter ID law | Regional | Rock Hill Herald Online.

South Carolina: Justice Department sued over South Carolina Voter ID records | The Post and Courier

A national conservative watchdog group has added a new wrinkle to the contentious debate over South Carolina’s voter ID law. Judicial Watch announced Tuesday that it has sued the Department of Justice, saying it has not turned over public records related to its decision to block the state’s requirement that voters present government-issued photo IDs in order to vote. The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment. Judicial Watch said it filed a Feb. 6 Freedom of Information Act request for the records, and the Justice Department acknowledged receipt of the request 10 days later. But the department still has not turned over any records, which were due no later than March 29, the conservative group said Tuesday. Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against the department over the matter in U.S. District Court last week.

Full Article: Justice Department sued over S.C. Voter ID records | The Post and Courier | Charleston SC, News, Sports, Entertainment.

South Carolina: Senate Democrats fail in efforts to defund voter ID | TheState.com

Democratic state senators failed Wednesday in their efforts to remove funding from the proposed 2012-13 budget for the voter ID lawsuit, as floor debate on the spending plan continued for a second full week. The Senate defeated 24-17 an amendment stripping $1 million from the attorney general’s office for its fight with the federal government on a state law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. Subsequent attempts also failed. Republicans have argued the law is about preventing voter fraud. The federal government blocked the law in December, saying it could keep minorities from casting ballots. Attorney General Alan Wilson then sued in February.

Full Article: SC Senate Dems fail in efforts to defund voter ID - State & Regional - TheState.com.

South Carolina: Senate Democrats fail in efforts to defund voter ID | TheState.com

Democratic state senators failed Wednesday in their efforts to remove funding from the proposed 2012-13 budget for the voter ID lawsuit, as floor debate on the spending plan continued for a second full week. The Senate defeated 24-17 an amendment stripping $1 million from the attorney general’s office for its fight with the federal government on a state law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. Subsequent attempts also failed. Republicans have argued the law is about preventing voter fraud. The federal government blocked the law in December, saying it could keep minorities from casting ballots. Attorney General Alan Wilson then sued in February.

Full Article: SC Senate Dems fail in efforts to defund voter ID - State & Regional - TheState.com.

South Carolina: Deadline Monday for South Carolina to say if implementing voter ID would be possible this year | GoUpstate.com

A federal court has given the state of South Carolina until Monday to clarify whether it would be feasible to implement a statewide voter identification requirement in time for this year’s general elections. State elections officials have said that, in order to take appropriate steps to use the law for the Nov. 6 general election, the requirement that voters present government-issued photo identification at the polls must go into effect no later than Aug. 1 of this year. Now, it will be up to state Attorney General Alan Wilson to outline what steps the state would need to take to create photo voter ID cards and make sure voters know the rules in enough time for the general election. The deadlines for the state would be tight. But one of the three judges hearing the case said the speedy schedule is necessary if state officials want to be able to use the law — if approved — this year. 

Full Article: Deadline approaching for SC to say if implementing voter ID would be possible this year | GoUpstate.com.

South Carolina: Justice Department: South Carolina voter ID law violates Voting Rights Act | USAToday.com

South Carolina’s voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act and discriminates against minorities despite the state’s assertions to the contrary, the Obama administration says in new court papers. The U.S. Justice Department’s comments came in a 12-page document filed Monday with a District of Columbia court in response to South Carolina’s Feb. 7 voter ID lawsuit. Justice lawyers urged the judges to reject the state’s request for a declaratory judgment, which is a speedy decision by judges without a trial. The administration rejects South Carolina’s claim that the voter ID law “will not have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color or membership in a language minority group,” Justice Department lawyers wrote in their legal brief. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office provided a copy of the brief Tuesday.

Full Article: Justice Dept.: S.C. voter ID law violates Voting Rights Act – USATODAY.com.

South Carolina: In voter ID case, South Carolina fights back against Obama administration | CSMonitor.com

South Carolina’s attorney general is asking a three-judge panel in Washington to reverse a Justice Department decision blocking the state’s new voter ID law. Obama administration officials said the state law would discriminate against African-American voters. In court papers filed on Wednesday, Washington lawyer Paul Clement and state Attorney General Alan Wilson requested that a three-judge panel be appointed to decide whether South Carolina’s voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The litigation sets up another election-year flashpoint between the Obama administration and state governments over the balance of federal-state power.

Full Article: In voter ID case, South Carolina fights back against Obama administration - CSMonitor.com.

South Carolina: Voter ID Law Defended By State In Challenge To Justice Department | Huffington Post

The state of South Carolina yesterday filed a lawsuitchallenging the Justice Department’s recent blocking of the state’s recent voter identification law. And it could cost taxpayers upward of $1 million or more. In the lawsuit, Attorney General Alan Wilson asked a judge to overturn the federal government’s decision, saying that enforcement of the new law “will not disenfranchise any potential South Carolina voter,” according to reports. “The changes have neither the purpose nor will they have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority.” But Democrats and minority rights groups have said the laws are part of a concerted effort by Republicans to chip away at the voting rights of minorities — who are key constituencies for the Democrats — ahead of the 2012 presidential election.

Full Article: South Carolina Voter ID Law Defended By State In Challenge To Justice Department.