The Justice Department on Friday rejected South Carolina’s measure requiring photo identification at the polls as discriminatory against minority voters.
The decision may heighten political tensions over the new laws, which critics say could depress turnout among minorities and others who helped elect President Barack Obama in 2008. A dozen States have passed laws requiring voters to present State-issued photo identification this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
According to The Washington Post, under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, several of the States that enacted voter-identification laws are required to receive Federal preclearance to ensure that the laws don’t have unfair impacts on minority populations.
Some of the voter-identification measures would impose restrictions on early voting and make it harder for former felons to vote in addition to requiring identification. One study estimated that the changes could affect more than 5 million voters throughout the country, according to the article.
South Carolina now has the option of trying to get the law approved by a Federal court or passing another law and submitting it to the Justice Department.