COLUMBIA — A federal court has given the state of South Carolina until today to clarify whether it would be feasible to implement a statewide voter identification requirement in time for this year’s general elections.
State elections officials have said that, in order to take appropriate steps to use the law for the Nov. 6 general election, the requirement that voters present government-issued photo identification at the polls must go into effect no later than Aug. 1.
Now, it will be up to state Attorney General Alan Wilson to outline what steps the state would need to take to create photo voter ID cards and make sure voters know the rules in enough time for the general election.
The deadlines for the state would be tight. But one of the three judges hearing the case said the speedy schedule is necessary if state officials want to be able to use the law – if approved – this year.
A panel of three federal judges in Washington, D.C., is considering the lawsuit filed by Wilson, who earlier this year sued U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder over the U.S. Department of Justice’s rejection of the law.
It was the first such law to be refused by the federal agency in nearly 20 years.
The law also requires the state to determine how many voters lack state-issued IDs so that the State Election Commission can inform them of the new law. The Department of Motor Vehicles will issue free state photo identification cards to those voters.