SC voter ID law rejected by Justice Department

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) ? The Justice Department on Friday rejected South Carolina’s law requiring voters to show photo identification, saying the law makes it harder for minorities to vote.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez said the law didn’t meet the burden under the Voting Rights Act and tens of thousands of minorities in South Carolina might not be unable to cast ballots under the law.

Perez said non-whites comprise about one-third of South Carolina’s registered voters. Minorities also are one-third of the registered voters who don’t have the right ID to vote.

South Carolina can sue over the rejection, pass a new law or submit more data to the Justice Department. Spokesmen for Gov. Nikki Haley and Attorney General Alan Wilson did not immediately respond to email Friday, a state holiday.

South Carolina’s new voter ID law requires people casting ballots to show poll workers a state-issued driver’s license or ID card; a U.S. military ID or a U.S. passport.

The Justice Department must approve changes to South Carolina’s election laws under the federal Voting Rights Act because of the state’s past failure to protect the voting rights of blacks. Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union have challenged it.

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Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP