How in the hell can merely showing ID be racist or in any way discriminatory...what a complete crock of shit.
I don't buy it. There is something else at play here. In my opinion, this is all about keeping in place, those mechanisms that allow for voter fraud..
Let me ask you this; In what other official transaction, is it OK to say "trust me, I am who i say I am". None.
South Carolina’s new law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls was blocked by the U.S. Justice Department, which said it would “significantly” burden non-white voters.
The Justice Department’s decision, announced in a letter today to South Carolina Assistant Deputy Attorney General C. Havird Jones, is the first time the Obama administration has intervened against any of the eight states that enacted new voter ID laws or tightened existing ones this year.
The decision is the latest turn in a partisan feud over voter-identification rules that flares in presidential election years. Republicans press for stricter photo identification as crucial to upholding the integrity of elections, while Democrats, who count minority voters as part of their political base, oppose the statutes as attempts to disenfranchise people.
“It is outrageous, and we plan to look at every possible option to get this terrible, clearly political decision overturned so we can protect the integrity of our electoral process and our 10th Amendment rights,” South Carolina’s Republican Governor Nikki Haley said in a statement.
The laws, adopted largely in states controlled by Republican lawmakers, have the potential to swing the outcome of races in 2012, said Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the democracy program at the Brennan Center for Justice.
“Our estimate is tens of thousands of people could be prevented from voting based on this kind of law and in a state like Wisconsin in a presidential race that’s close, the race could be determined by a few hundred votes or certainly a few thousand,” Norden said.
Under the Voting Rights Act, South Carolina is among 16 states or parts of states that have a history of voting rights violations and must obtain permission from the Justice Department or a federal court before redrawing their district lines or changing election procedures.
The Justice Department’s decision doesn’t affect Alabama and Texas, which also come under the Voting Rights Act requirement, and have also passed voter ID laws similar to South Carolina’s. Other states that have enacted similar laws include Kansas and Tennessee.
The action “is nothing but partisan politics and shows they oppose efforts to protect elections against cheating and fraud,” said Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee. “The Democrats’ scare tactics of voter disenfranchisement have no basis in fact.”
Patrick Gaspard, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, said the Justice Department’s move “helps make sure that people who should be able to vote can.”
Attorney General Eric Holder injected himself into the debate last week during a speech on voting rights at the Lyndon B. Johnson Library Museum in Austin, Texas, where he said he had concerns about the South Carolina and Texas voter ID laws. Holder said both would receive a “thorough and fair” review.
Democrats sent out a fundraising letter Dec. 16 that asked supporters to donate to the party to help push back against Republican efforts to suppress voters through the new laws. Reince Priebus, the Republican Party chairman, responded by criticizing Democrats for what he termed “extreme rhetoric” on the issue.
South Carolina’s law, which Haley signed into law in May, requires voters to show government-issued photo ID.
Non-white voters would be “significantly burdened” by the law’s requirements and “disproportionately unlikely to possess” the necessary identification, said Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, who oversees the Justice Department’s civil rights division, in the letter today.
The law exempts people who vote absentee, have religious objections to being photographed or have a “reasonable impediment” such as a physical disability, said Chris Whitmire, a spokesman for the South Carolina State Election Commission.
Voters who forget to bring the proper ID could vote using a provisional ballot, which would count if they presented their identification at a county election commission office prior to the election being certified, Whitmire said.
‘Send a Signal’
Civil rights groups asked the Justice Department to block South Carolina’s law, arguing it would suppress turnout among minorities.
“It will send a signal to other states” that they “need to think twice about pursuing this type of plan,” said Tanya Clay House, public policy director for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in an interview before the decision was announced.
Requiring voters to show photo ID “will instill confidence in the electoral process” and not adversely affect minority voters, said Chip Campsen, a Republican state senator in South Carolina, who sponsored the measure.
“There’s a lot of hyperbole about voter ID laws,” Campsen said in an interview yesterday. “They’re really distorting the intent and the effect.”
The South Carolina decision didn’t provide clues about how the Justice Department may handle other voting laws submitted for approval under the Voting Rights Act, said Samuel Bagenstos, a University of Michigan law professor who served as the civil rights division’s principal deputy assistant attorney general between 2009 and 2001.
“People will necessarily look to this as an indication of the department’s direction,” said Bagenstos. “But at the same time, it’s really going to be about this state and these facts and each state may be different.”
Texas has submitted its law to the Justice Department for approval. Alabama, where the new law doesn’t go into effect until 2014, hasn’t yet asked either the Justice Department or a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court in Washington to pre-clear its plan.
The Justice Department should also block enforcement of the Texas law, said Luis Roberto Vera Jr., general counsel of the Washington-based League of United Latin American Citizens.
“Texas should just cave in instead of spending millions on this fruitless effort to fight over this issue,” he said. “If you look at every court case regarding voter ID, there is no evidence ever submitted to any court showing any massive voter fraud anywhere.”
--With assistance from Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Tom Schoenberg and Jonathan D. Salant in Washington and David Mildenberg in Charlotte. Editors: Bob Drummond, Laurie Asseo
To contact the reporter on this story: Seth Stern in Washington at email@example.com
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