State can still do a lot to improve voting laws

info@islandpacket.comOctober 27, 2012 

South Carolina voters won't face the unnecessary hurdle of producing government-issued photo IDs on Nov. 6, but protecting voting rights can't stop with the U.S. District Court's ruling last week on our voter ID law.

Our politicians should admit (as state Election Commission staff do) that it is burdensome to vote only on the first Tuesday of November, while our friends in a majority of other states can vote early. We could allow Election Day registration at the polls to accommodate new arrivals and voters whose addresses recently changed. We can help restore voting rights to the many voters in our state who have been disfranchised by over-incarceration in the last 40 years.

Instead of investing in such reforms, our state spent $3 million to defend a law that was unfair to a large group of South Carolina voters who lacked government-issued photo IDs. The judges' Oct. 12 opinion states that the law "certainly would have been more restrictive" if the Department of Justice and the court had not intervened.

The voter ID lawsuit demonstrated not only that there was no evidence of voter fraud, but also that the Voting Rights Act remains vital. South Carolina was required by that act (which Congress reauthorized most recently in 2006 by an overwhelming margin) to get approval of this voting change. If not for this, the voter ID law might have had a greater discriminatory impact on many voters in our state.

We are glad that, for now, it will not.

Victoria Middleton

Executive director

ACLU of South Carolina

Charleston

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