Opponents of the embattled law, which U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. blocked last year under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, will challenge the credibility of its chief author, state Rep. Alan D. Clemmons (R) of Myrtle Beach.
Attorneys for the voter-ID lawâ€™s foes, including civil rights groups, will say Clemmons took false credit for its â€œreasonable impedimentâ€ clause, which allows voters to cast ballots if they have â€œreasonableâ€ reasons for not having photo identification. Attorneys also will say Clemmons misrepresented his relationship with a man who sent him an e-mail about the law that the lawmaker acknowledged under oath last month was racist.
And the lawyers trying to kill the law will argue that Alan Wilson, South Carolina attorney general, and Marci Andino, executive director of the State Election Commission, lack the legal authority to implement the voter-ID law in ways that contradict the lawâ€™s text or other relevant state laws.
Attorneys for South Carolina will respond that the voter-ID law is aimed at preventing election fraud, and theyâ€™ll point to key Supreme Court rulings that states donâ€™t need to show the existence of fraud in order to take steps against it. Attorneys also will argue that state officialsâ€™ plans for implementing the law arenâ€™t contradictory or at variance with its provisions.
At issue under the Voting Rights Act, which protects minoritiesâ€™ access to the ballot box, is whether the South Carolina lawâ€™s requirement that voters possess one of five forms of photo identification would have a disproportionately harmful impact on African Americans. Of several cases in which state voter-ID laws are under legal scrutiny, South Carolinaâ€™s is among the most closely watched because of the stateâ€™s troubled history of racial relations and because it could have national implications from an expected future U.S. Supreme Court ruling on it.
Garrard Beeney, lead attorney for the intervenors, which include civil rights groups and individual South Carolinians who claim the law would hurt them, said trial testimony last month showed that minority voters would feel its brunt. They are poorer as a whole and would have more difficulty obtaining the photo IDs, he said.
â€œThere really is no dispute from anyone at this trial that blacks are less likely than whites to have the new kinds of ID voters would have to have,â€ Beeney said in an interview Friday.