US District Court upholds South Carolina Voter ID law

Published: Oct. 10, 2012 at 4:40 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 20, 2012 at 4:45 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS/AP) - Although it won't take effect until 2013, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson says the US District's Court's ruling on the state's Voter ID law is "a major victory for South Carolina and the election process."

The US District Court for the District of Columbia announced its decision Wednesday, upholding the state law that requires voters to show photo identification at the polls.

"We defended a law that had already been shown to be Constitutional by previous Supreme Court ruling and now we feel vindicated," said Wilson. "The federal government challenged the state of South Carolina. The state of South Carolina won. The law is going into effect. We are happy."

"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."

South Carolina Democratic Party Chairperson Dick Harpootlian disagreed with the ruling.

"I am disappointed in the court's decision to uphold South Carolina's Voter ID law," he said in a statement to the media. "The South Carolina Democratic Party strongly disagrees with the court's opinion and is hopeful that the United States Supreme Court will resolve the differences between various Voter ID cases around the country."

"The issue now is there are people out there now who don't have governmental IDs and unless you make sure DMV shows up at every single person's house, how is it fair to require them to pay to get an ID," said Amanda Loveday from the state Democratic Party.

The law requires those wanting to vote in South Carolina to show one of five types of photo identification in order to cast a ballot.
The judges say the law does not discriminate or wipe out voting rights gains of African-Americans.

"This ruling also affirms South Carolina's voter ID law should have been pre-cleared by the U.S. Justice Department," continued Wilson. "We will work diligently to implement this law for all future elections."

USC professor Bob Oldendick says the law boils down to each party protecting their interests.

"On Republican side, primarily we're protecting voter integrity. We're protecting the process. On the Democratic side they believe it's more of their supporters that are going to be disenfranchised," said Oldendick.

Rep. Todd Rutherford believes the judges who made the decision do not understand the makeup of rural South Carolina.

"They said there's a DMV office in every county in SC. Some even have more than one. The problem is those with only one DMV office -- it may be 40 or 50 miles to go to the DMV office on back roads for someone who doesn't have a car. To suggest that person can go out and get an ID is ludicrous," said Rutherford.

South Carolina's law was the first voting law in nearly 20 years that the Department of Justice refused to OK.

Rutherford wants an appeal, and Oldendick says that will probably happen.

"There are a number of different decision that have been made in different courts. What the Supreme Court hates is inconsistency so they're going to try to clean it up," said Oldendick.

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