US Justice Department has recently requested additional information on South Carolina bill that requires voter to present photo identification upon casting a ballot. The formal inquiry purpose is to clear the doubts raised previously by state Democrats that the new law may abridge some citizens from voting based on race, color, age or spoken language. South Carolina has a unique rule that requires federal approval before proposed bill reagrding state election law goes into force.
The state has troublesome history of voting. 1895 state Constitution practickaly ruled blacks and poor whites out of voting by demanding voter registration process which included poll fees and literacy tests; the process was also controlled by white only staff. Up until 1940 less than 1% of voting age black population was registered which resulted in no representation. It took 70 years to bring fair voting practices back to South Carolina. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 which coupled with state election laws finally let black population vote which resulted in many elected representatives.
The state voter bill, passed and signed by the governor in May requires driver’s licenses, state photo ID card, passport, military card or photo voter registration card (non existent document as of now) to cast a ballot.
Justice Department request for information includes questions and some data as follows:
—When and where can voters get a voter registration card with a photo?
—How will voters be informed of the changes and card availability?
—How will the state train state and county election officials on the changes?
—What’s required for getting a photo ID at the DMV? In addition to a birth certificate, what else can be provided as acceptable proof of a person’s name and date of birth?
—A copy of the state Election Commission’s registered voter list, breaking down by race registered voters who lack a driver’s license. The agency also must describe how it compiled the information and explain how those voters specifically will be informed.