Today, a federal court blocked South Carolina’s voter ID law for the 2012 elections, though it will be allowed to commence in 2013. According to the judges’ ruling, it is too close to the November election for effective implementation of South Carolina’s Act R54, which required voters to show a drivers license, state-issued photo ID, passport, federal military photo ID or a photo voter registration card to vote. Before this law was passed, voters could show their voter registration card without a photo. The ruling states: .
From the outset, the Court has pushed very hard to make a decision in time for the 2012 elections. We set an extremely aggressive trial schedule to accomplish that objective. Counsel for all parties have worked diligently, which the Court greatly appreciates. Unfortunately, as one might have anticipated in a case with this many entities involved, the parties ran into some discovery delays over the summer in trying to obtain relevant information. In the ordinary case, those minor and typical delays would not have been a big deal. In this case, those discovery Case 1:12-cv-00203-CKK-BMK-JDB Document 299 Filed 10/10/12 Page 34 of 415 delays pushed back the trial date by several weeks, with the voluntary consent of all parties. And that delay has in turn pushed back our date of decision. We need not belabor the point. At this late date, the Court is unable to conclude that South Carolina can implement Act R54 for the 2012 elections in a way that will suffice under the Voting Rights Act.
US District Judge Collen Kollar-Kotelly noted in her concurring opinion that both the state and the civil rights attorneys challenging the state agreed that almost 130,000 voters in South Carolina lacked qualifying ID to vote, mostly people of color. Pointing that out, Kollar-Kottelly, who was appointed by conservative US Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist, credited the Voting Rights Act, and Section 5 in particular for protecting the rights of those voters of color, writing: