South Carolina politicians react to Voting Rights Act ruling - - Columbia, South Carolina |

South Carolina politicians react to Voting Rights Act ruling

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As the US Supreme Court voted to rule a part of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional, South Carolina politicians were quick to react to the results.

The decision says states and jurisdictions including South Carolina are no longer required to get federal approval when they change election laws.

Some of the state's top elected officials, all of them Republicans, cheered the decision.

They say it supports their belief that South Carolina has moved forward and corrected many of the wrongs that existed when the Voting Rights Act became law.

And barring an Act of Congress to update the section struck down Tuesday, meaning controversial election law changes like voter ID will soon be fully implemented.

South Carolina has been one of nine states and more than 50 townships and counties nationwide forced to meet a special test when they changed voting laws.

Because those areas had histories of discrimination, they would have to get approval from the U.S. Justice Department in order to make those changes.

But with Tuesday's 5-4 Supreme Court ruling, a critical part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act is dismantled.

It was something the state's NAACP leader Lonnie Randolph saw coming when he attended oral arguments at the high court back in February.

The ruling focused on Section Four of the act, the map that included the Palmetto State.

The court said that map put together with information that once showed wide disparities in turnout between white and black populations is now outdated and needs to be re-evaluated by Congress.

Randolph says some in the minority community have at least partial responsibility for Tuesday's ruling.

In writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts included a chart comparing voter turnout at the time of the act.

That chart showed South Carolina in 1965 had a 76 percent white voter turnout with only 37 percent of black voters going to the polls.

By 2004, the chart indicated just over 74 percent of white voters taking part with what was then 71 percent black voter participation.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson released a statement shortly after the court's ruling, saying it was a "victory for all voters as all states can now act equally without some having to ask for permission or being required to jump through the extraordinary hoops demanded by federal bureaucracy."

Third District Congressman Jeff Duncan also called the ruling a "win for fairness, South Carolina, and the rule of law."

Meanwhile, Gov. Nikki Haley's office says she "applauds today's decision."

"She understands better than anyone how South Carolina has changed for the better - and that's thanks in no small part to the fact that she, and members of the General Assembly, have fought to strengthen the integrity of our electoral process and make sure more, and not fewer, South Carolinians have access to the ballot box," said Haley's spokesperson Rob Godfrey.

State Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison called the ruling "extremely disappointing."

"The Democratic Party will continue to oppose legislative and political efforts that erode the right to vote and will actively support efforts to protect and expand voting rights in South Carolina and across the country," said Harrison.

Copyright 2013 WIS. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2013 WIS. All rights reserved.

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