Free Markets, Free People

DoJ rejects South Carolina voter ID law

With a tight election in the offing, it comes as no surprise to me that the DoJ has decided to begin getting interested in voter ID laws in certain swing states where it can.  South Carolina is one of those:

The Obama administration entered the fierce national debate over voting rights, rejecting South Carolina’s new law requiring photo identification at the polls and saying it discriminated against minority voters.

Friday’s decision by the Justice Department could heighten political tensions over eight state voter ID statutes passed this year, which critics say could hurt turnout among minorities and others who helped elect President Obama in 2008. Conservatives and other supporters say the tighter laws are needed to combat voter fraud.

Two of the things that the left constantly claims when such measures are passed is it is A) it will mostly cause an adverse effect among minorities and B) there’s no evidence of voting fraud.

We’ve dealt with “A” before.  If you write a check, buy liquor or any of a myriad of different transactions throughout the year, you are asked or required to produce a valid state issued ID.  Does that adversely effect the ability of minorities to write checks or buy alcohol?  Then there’s driving.  No license, no driving.  It’s a nonsensical argument.  And most states issue free photo IDs to those who don’t drive.

As for “B”, it’s rather hard to prove fraud when anyone on two legs can walk up and vote without having to prove they are who they say they are, isn’t it?

In any case, here is the existing SC law:

When any person presents himself to vote, he shall produce his valid South Carolina driver’s license or other form of identification containing a photograph issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles, if he is not licensed to drive, or the written notification of registration.

  • Voter registration certificate
  • South Carolina driver’s license
  • South Carolina Dept. of Motor Vehicles photo ID card

    Voters without ID may be permitted to vote a provisional ballot.  This varies from county to county. Whether the provisional ballot is counted is at the discretion of the county commissioners at the provisional ballot hearing.

  • OK?  Here’s the new law the DoJ has rejected:

    When a person presents himself to vote, he shall produce a valid and current ID.

  • South Carolina driver’s license
  • Other form of photo ID issued by the SC Dept. of Motor Vehicles
  • Passport
  • Military ID bearing a photo issued by the federal government
  • South Carolina voter registration card with a photo

    If the elector cannot produce identification, he may cast a provisional ballot that is counted only if the elector brings a valid and current photograph identification to the county board of registration and elections before certification of the election by the county board of canvassers.

  • I’ll leave it up to you to determine what “new” provision suddenly makes this particular law, in light of the existing law, suddenly something which deserves rejection by the DoJ for the reasons stated?  Also note that SC voters will still need to produce an ID to vote.

    In fact, more methods of identification have been added and the same provision for those without ID remain, i.e. the provisional ballot that then requires they present a valid ID before their vote is counted.

    In fact, this is the opening salvo in a political war with the Department of Justice in the vanguard.  The same DoJ that refused to prosecute the voter intimidation by the New Black Panthers documented on video in Philadelphia in the 2008. 

    The federal action — the first time the government has rejected a voter-identification law in nearly 20 years — signals an escalating national legal battle over the laws as the presidential campaign intensifies. The American Civil Liberties Union and another group recently filed a federal lawsuit contending that Wisconsin’s new voter-identification measure is unconstitutional.

    Laws approved in Mississippi and Alabama also require federal approval but have not yet been submitted to the federal government. States can get such approval for changes to voting laws from Justice, a federal court in the District or both.

    There is no concern for the integrity of the voting system whatsoever in the action by DoJ.  This is raw politics.  There is nothing notably different or onerous about the new SC law.  But it provides a precedent for rejecting other state’s “new” laws in the near future.

    Here’s the Georgia law which has been in effect for years (passed in 2005) for comparison:

    Each elector shall present proper identification to a poll worker at or prior to completion of a voter’s certificate at any polling place and prior to such person’s admission to the enclosed space at such polling place.

    • Georgia driver’s license, even if expired
    • ID card issued by the state of Georgia or the federal government
    • Free voter ID card issued by the state or county
    • U.S. passport
    • Valid employee ID card containing a photograph from any branch, department, agency, or entity of the U.S. Government, Georgia, or any county, municipality, board, authority or other entity of this state
    • Valid U.S. military identification card
    • Valid tribal photo ID

    If you show up to vote and you do not have one of the acceptable forms of photo identification, you can still vote a provisional ballot.  You will have up to two days after the election to present appropriate photo identification at your county registrar’s office in order for your provisional ballot to be counted.

    This law functioned beautifully in 2008 and no one whined about "disenfranchisement".

    Again, this is about politics.  Why am I saying this?  Here’s a clue:

    It is unclear if the four states not subject to the Voting Rights Act requirement — Wisconsin, Kansas, Rhode Island and Tennessee — will face challenges to their laws. Justice lawyers could file suit under a different provision of the act, but the department has not revealed its intentions.

    Depends on how close the election appears to be in 2012 is my guess as to what will guide “its intentions”.  After all how can dead people vote if they have to produce a valid ID?

    I have absolutely no confidence in the current director of the Department of Justice nor do I believe he has any concern about justice.  He’s the ultimate political hack hired to push a political agenda (see Fast and Furious for further proof) and this is just another warping of the concept of justice by Eric Holder.


    Twitter: @McQandO

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    35 Responses to DoJ rejects South Carolina voter ID law

    • “It is unclear if the four states not subject to the Voting Rights Act requirement — Wisconsin, Kansas, Rhode Island and Tennessee — will face challenges to their laws.”

      Tennessee went McCain 57-42 in 2008. I doubt the Democrat operatives are going to waste any time here.

    • I am willing to play, “Which of these are not like the other.”

      The existing South Carolina law allows someone to use a voter registration certificate to vote. As everyone will have had one of these if they have registered to vote, SC would be protected from any claims of bias.

      The Georgia law allows the use of an *expired* ID, whereas the SC law does not. This makes it easier to vote in GA.

      (In any case, the 2005 GA law was evaluated under a different administration. If I read it correctly, he DOJ can only reject changes to laws, not change existing laws.)

      By the way, isn’t accusing the DOJ of playing “raw politics” here a tacit admission that the laws were written (similar to redistricting schemes) with a political aim of choosing who can vote?

      • @wecanwait How does one “choose” who can vote when the option is open to everyone who is eligible and meets the very simple requirement of positive identification (which is easily obtainable as Georgia has proven)? If you mean choosing not to let those who aren’t eligible to vote, then yes.

        • @Bruce McQuain @wecanwait Just to stir the pot a bit…

          You have NO Constitutional right to vote for President.

          States WERE the determiners of who could vote. (See the period???)

          • @Ragspierre Yes, citizens for for electors, not the President directly.

            The 15th and 19th amendments together guarantee that no citizen is denied the right to vote in those elections based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude” and “sex”, respectively. The 24th amendment keeps states from preventing people from voting based on failure to pay any tax. The 26th amendment sets the minimum voting age at 18. The 14th amendment gives states the ability to take away the right to vote based on “participation in rebellion, or other crime” without affecting the number of representatives they have in the House. So, yes, states can determine who can vote so long as they don’t violate those bounds (and possibly others; I am not a scholar on this field).

        • @Bruce McQuain @wecanwait Fair enough, “choose” is imprecise language. What I meant was, attempt to influence the statistical distribution of who was likely to vote.

    • The Obamic DOJ shaping the battlefield for massive vote fraud…

      Remember, you cannot vote in a union election, go into a Federal courthouse, attend a Eric Holder speech, or get your ObamaDaddy food stamps without a picture ID.

    • Why can’t minorities get IDs? People can never answer this question

      • @The Shark Funny how its never a problem when they want to drive or buy alcohol, but vote? Heaven forbid the man is trying to disenfranchise them. Wonder how minorities are traveling by air without state issued ID these days. Where are the protests that its just too hard for them to obtain them and so they should be able to fly without having to show them?

        • @Bruce McQuain Voting is specifically protected by several amendments to the Constitution. The other things aren’t, and so the government has the right to require IDs, for example, if it thinks it will help protect public safety.

          • @wecanwait @Bruce The right to bear arms is part of the Constitution. Inner city minorities are statistically more likely to be the victims of violence. So they especially need the ability to exercise that right, giving them options for self defense. Yet ID is still required to purchase a gun.

          • @wecanwait @Bruce The right to travel has, since the founding, been held to be one of your “inalienable” rights, yet is is subject to police power infringements as to your mode of travel.

            Your right to due process, and to redress of grievances, in many cases would entail your access to Federal buildings. Try it without a picture ID.

            The right to free speech involves a corollary right to choose to listen or not. Try getting into a speech by Eric Holder or Barachah Obama without picture ID.

          • @Billy Hollis There are other ways in which owning a gun is different. You need an ID to buy a gun, but not each time you shoot it. You can buy as many guns as you want, but you can only register to vote once. Finally, when you pull a lever at the voting booth, the process for bullets to emerge takes longer, and is much more indirect. The comparison is good to consider, but in the end the analogy is strained.

          • @Ragspierre The courts have dealt with the right to travel. If you can’t board an airplane, you can still take a train, bus, car (as a passenger), or boat. There are no other options for voting.

            As to a right to listen, public meetings are recorded or have transcripts, and the freedom of information act guarantees your right to access the information. At worst, one can ask someone who could attend to relate what was said. I see no reason to claim that one requires a right to listen in person.

            I’m not familiar with the issue accessing federal buildings. Everything I’ve had to do could be done with letters, and the buildings I can bring to mind rely on metal detectors and such rather than checking IDs. But, that could be a fair point.

            In the first two cases, at least, there is a public safety argument for requiring positive identification. A downed plane or an assassinated politician cannot be mitigated after the fact. Death is final. In the case of voting, the risk is fraud, which is as dire or as immediate a threat.

          • @wecanwait These arguments are either just an exercise…or you’ve just gotten screwy.

          • @wecanwait @Billy Yeah, my point was the entire analogy thing you’re trying to do is strained, and completely dodges the main issue: safeguarding the legitimacy of elections.

            If a critical mass of the population ever loses trust in legitimate elections, then you can write any of a dozen outcomes, but all of them include violence. The implicit trust that elections are (on the whole) fair and not manipulated is a keystone of our system. It cannot survive without it.

            Allowing no verification of any form that the persons voting are eligible to vote is a major blow to that legitimacy. I don’t see how anyone could possibly dispute that.

            The analogies are mostly to demonstrate that the supposed burden is not nearly as onerous as those who oppose verification claim it is. They don’t have to be exact; the main point (that a sufficient number of ineligible people voting is a danger to a democratic system) is beyond dispute, and therefore measures to prevent that outcome are justified.

          • @Billy Hollis I completely agree that allowing no form of verification presents an unacceptable risk to voting. In fact, the post we are all commenting on claims that the change in the SC verification laws are small. The current law, which the DOJ is not challenging, requires either an ID or a voter registration certificate. At issue is whether SC should change the law to place further conditions on allowing people to vote, when turn-out at elections is already embarrassingly low, and when SC failed to produce evidence that the current law was allowing vote fraud (although they are still working on that).

          • @Ragspierre Yes to both. Yes, it is an exercise. I’m a tad bit bored, and interested in hearing how other people think about this issue.

            And yes, I got screwy. I assumed your argument was, Our liberties are already restricted so what’s the big deal with voting restrictions? I apologize if I was wrong. I then tried to argue why the other restrictions are more reasonable than restrictions on people voting. I think that’s the wrong approach.

            What actually worries me is that fear too often causes us to accept laws that are just for show. Just ask an 18-to-21-year-old how hard ID requirements make it for them to enter bars. The fact that other liberties are constrained should not be used as an argument for making it even a little bit harder to vote than it already is. There are checks in place when one registers; the current law has checks in place at voting; turn-out is still low, and there is almost no evidence that vote fraud is happening. Why not fight for our rights — to vote, to travel, to attend public speeches, to enter federal buildings on business, to own guns — rather than find excuses to constrict them?

            Evidence of vote fraud would be an example of a good argument for more restrictive voting laws, which SC failed to make here. So, either the government of SC failed at its job, or it is trying to constrict rights for no good reason. Either way, I’m unhappy with them.

          • @wecanwait “…there is almost no evidence that vote fraud is happening”

            You are grossly uninformed. There are several active prosecutions of vote fraud under way right now, and several recently completed.

          • @Ragspierre “Several cases?” Please. SC provided no evidence to the DOJ that in-person fraud has occurred in their elections. The only cases of voter fraud that might have influenced elections involve absentee ballots, which are not affected by ID laws. There is good coverage of this in many places, such as Business Week:


      • @The Shark The issue is that they are less likely, statistically, to have current (not expired) picture IDs. The reason why doesn’t matter under the law. The fact that it is true is enough for the DOJ to prevent the changes from going into effect.

        • @wecanwait “The reason why doesn’t matter under the law.”

          Where did you get that crap…??? What the DOJ has to prove is that there is a CAUSAL LINK INVOLVING RACIAL (or other proscribed) DISCRIMINATION. It is NEVER enough to just cite a statistical aberration.

          • @Ragspierre “That crap” is in the law, and in similar ones like Title IX for schools. At the time, the concern was that states that had enforced segregation would develop schemes that would disenfranchise minority voters, but would allow them to plausibly deny that the schemes were racially-motivated. For instance, voting authorities might require literacy tests, or put too few voting machines in poorer districts, or distribute information about how and where to vote in ways that minorities would be less likely to receive them. Rather than writing a law against each case of bad behavior, the law gives the DOJ authority to reject the rules based not only on their motivation (which may be impossible to prove), but on their effect. The link required is that there is a law, and it has a discriminatory effect.

            That is why “Why” is not important. In this case, perhaps it’s because the poor are less likely to have cars, and therefore less likely to renew drivers’ licences. Or, perhaps the IDs require money, time, or transportation to obtain, placing obstacles before the poor. Minorities are more likely to be poor, so they may be less likely to have current IDs. Rather than having a debate about whether the ID law is just targeting the poor or minorities in particular, or a debate about whether the obstacles are real or part of a moral failing on part of those without IDs, the law allows the DOJ to use the effect to declare the law invalid.

          • @wecanwait Yeah…no. You don’t get it.

            Read what I wrote, then read what you wrote.


          • @Ragspierre I do, in fact, get it. I read what you wrote, and JUST BECAUSE IT WAS IN CAPS LOCK DOESN’T MEAN IT IS CORRECT.


            “Section 2 contains a general prohibition on voting discrimination, enforced through federal district court litigation. Congress amended this section in 1982, prohibiting any voting practice or procedure that has a discriminatory result. The 1982 amendment provided that proof of intentional discrimination is not required. The provision focused instead on whether the electoral processes are equally accessible to minority voters.[12] This section is permanent and does not require renewal.”

            hyperlink > CAPS LOCK

        • @wecanwait The reason doesnt matter EXACTLY. So it is time for minorities to get with the program and get a fricking I D already

          • @The Shark @wecanwait,

            Here’s the ‘compassionate’ racism of the left at work. “Minorities are too incompetent to obtain ID.”

    • I forget the name of the effort, but there’s an effort to get states to sign up to have their electoral college seats go to the winner of the national vote. Many states have agreed to the effort.

      So how is that connected with voting ID?

      States that basically don’t care and will allow organizations like ACORN to stuff ballots quasi legally or allow illegal aliens to vote are probably going to vote Democrat anyway. So you could get a couple million stuffed/illegal votes and it won’t change the presidential outcome one bit. At least now. Because your electoral seats are determined by you legal residency.

      But if the popular vote movement is successful, then stuffing those ballots all of a sudden becomes meaningful. Spectacularly more meaningful.

      Voter ID laws put a kink in part of that plan though.

      • Combined with a popular vote scheme, all you really have to do then is focus on compromising voting laws/standards in three or four states and you open the vote to millions of illegal aliens.

    • This is also the same White House that just a while ago announced that it was going to try and win the election without white working middle class voters. Gee, how do you suppose they’re going to be able to do that without employing voter fraud, which voting without ID’ing the voter, implicitly allows?

    • Like a lot of laws passed in the same era, predictions were made that the VRA would be perverted. Those predictions were poo-pooed.

      They have come true in spades. It is time to tighten the law up, take it BACK from the courts and the DOJ in large measure, and END the Federal tyranny over the state’s determination of voting integrity.

    • In a letter to attorneys for the city of Kinston dated August 17, 2009, the Holder Justice Department explained that “the elimination of party affiliation on the ballot will likely reduce the ability of blacks to elect candidates of choice.”

      Maybe there’s a subtlety here that I’m missing because I’m not black or liberal, but it sounds to me as though the U.S. Attorney General is saying that his fellow blacks lack the capacity to exercise due diligence when it comes to sizing up candidates for elected office. And here I thought it was supposed to be conservatives who believed that blacks are too dumb to tie their shoes.

      Needless to say, the ACLU supported the decision of Judge John D. Bates, and so did the NAACP. Meantime, if a major voting bloc in the nation needs to have a “D” next to candidates’ names so they can tell which one to vote for, maybe a mandatory course in real voter literacy would not be that bad a thing.
      –Portnoy at HotAir

      Wow. That certainly tells us a lot.