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League of Women Voters of South Carolina Urge Court to Reject Restrictive Voter ID Law

The League of Women Voters of South Carolina urged a federal district court to reject the state’s restrictive voter ID law, arguing the law erects unnecessary barriers to voting and could disenfranchise thousands of minority voters.

March 27, 2012

Legal Groups File Motion to Stop Law That Could Disen­fran­chise Voters

Contact:

Erik Opsal

Bren­nan Center for Justice

646.292.8356

erik.opsal@nyu.edu

Stacie Royster

Lawyers’ Commit­tee for Civil Rights Under Law

202.662.8317

sroyster­@law­yer­scom­mit­tee.org

Peggy Brown

League of Women Voters of South Caro­lina

843.206.5290

pegjobrown@ya­hoo.com

Barbara Zia

League of Women Voters of South Caro­lina

803.251.2726

ZiaB1@­com­cast.net

Wash­ing­ton, D.C. – The League of Women Voters of South Caro­lina urged a federal district court to reject the state’s restrict­ive voter ID law, arguing the law erects unne­ces­sary barri­ers to voting and could disen­fran­chise thou­sands of minor­ity voters.

The League, which is seek­ing to inter­vene in South Caro­lina v. Holder, is repres­en­ted by the Bren­nan Center for Justice, the Lawyers’ Commit­tee for Civil Rights Under Law, and pro bono by the law firms Sulli­van & Crom­well LLP and Derfner, Altman & Wilborn LLC.

Under the federal Voting Rights Act, changes to South Caro­lin­a’s elec­tion laws must be “pre-cleared” by the Depart­ment of Justice or a D.C federal court. After the Justice Depart­ment rejec­ted South Caro­lin­a’s voter ID law because of its discrim­in­at­ory effect on minor­ity voters, South Caro­lina sued in federal court.

The Justice Depart­ment recently rejec­ted a Texas photo ID law and opposed Flor­id­a’s law restrict­ing community-based voter regis­tra­tion, early voting, and elec­tion-day address updates. The D.C. Court is currently consid­er­ing both of those cases. Two state court judges recently found Wiscon­sin’s photo ID law viol­ated the state consti­tu­tion.

“As restrict­ive voting laws continue to pass nation­wide, we are pleased to see the Justice Depart­ment and state courts stand up for voters,” said Keesha Gaskins, senior coun­sel at the Bren­nan Center for Justice. “Discrim­in­at­ory laws like South Caro­lin­a’s have no place in Amer­ica. They disen­fran­chise voters, partic­u­larly minor­it­ies. We are pleased Attor­ney General Eric Holder stepped in to reject this law, and we urge the federal court to do the same.”

“Voting is the most sacred part of our demo­cracy,” said Barbara Zia, co-pres­id­ent of the League of Women Voters of South Caro­lina. “By restrict­ing this funda­mental right, engaged citizens must now jump through hoops to make their voices heard. This law affects real voters and must be rejec­ted,” added League Co-Pres­id­ent Peggy Brown.

“The State’s own data show that South Caro­lin­a’s photo ID require­ment could prevent many thou­sands of eligible voters from cast­ing a ballot, a dispro­por­tion­ate share of whom will be racial minor­it­ies,” said Bob Kengle, Co-Director of the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers Commit­tee for Civil Rights Under Law, in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. “Proposed voting changes that harm minor­ity voting rights viol­ate Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, and this attempt to place an unne­ces­sary hurdle between the voter and the ballot is a case in point why Section 5 remains one of our most import­ant civil rights laws.”

“In the last decade, Congress reau­thor­ized the Voting Rights Act with bipar­tisan support, and Pres­id­ent George W. Bush signed it into law,” said Armand Derfner of Derfner, Altman & Wilborn. “This crit­ical legis­la­tion is more import­ant than ever to protect minor­ity voting rights in this coun­try.”

The South Caro­lina law is just one in a wave of restrict­ive voting meas­ures that passed in 2011. Together, these laws could make it harder for up to 5 million people to vote this Novem­ber, accord­ing to the Bren­nan Center’s report Voting Law Changes in 2012.

Read our motion to inter­vene and support­ing memor­andum.