The Palmetto State’s new law actually provides free state-issued photo identification cards to all that need them just like the laws of all the other states with such laws that the Department of Justice either pre-cleared or decided not to contest.
So what is the difference between the South Carolina law as opposed to the laws of Georgia (also upheld by their state’s highest court), that DOJ approved and Indiana (also upheld by the nation’s highest court) that DOJ declined to contest?
It is not the language of the respective laws, all of which avoid any semblance of a Jim Crow-style poll tax by, not only providing for the issuance of free photo ID voter registration cards, but also by authorizing a proactive educational campaign as well as allowing for non-photo ID voters to cast provisional ballots on Election Day that can be authenticated later with photo IDs obtained after Election Day.
Despite the above, no less than former President Bill Clinton has characterized photo ID laws as a “return to Jim Crow”, but I digress. I defer:
The court’s liberal lion, then-Justice John Paul Stevens, wrote for the majority that Indiana’s law “is unquestionably relevant to the State’s interest in protecting the integrity and reliability of the electoral process.” Indiana offered free voter ID cards to all citizens, so the inconvenience of picking up an ID at the Department of Motor Vehicles wasn’t an undue burden and was reasonably balanced by the state’s interest in reducing fraud, Justice Stevens wrote.
So, could it be that South Carolina’s sin was the passage of their law too soon after the failure of President Barack Obama’s economic policies became apparent and too soon before his re-election bid?
Holder’s assistant deputy AG in the Civil Rights Division claims in his pre-clearance denial letter that the new law “abridges” the right to vote of an alleged 81,938 “minority citizens who are already registered to vote [in S.C.] and who lack DMV-issued identification”, thus rendering them “effectively disenfranchised”; and that the state has not yet finalized the proposed procedures to implement the issuance of free photo IDs and an education campaign necessary to “mitigate” the new law’s “discriminatory effects”.