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NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF): Federal Court Rejects South Carolina's Restrictive Voter ID Law for November Election; Allows Implementation in 2013

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a significant voting rights development, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected South Carolina's request under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act to implement its discriminatory photo identification measure in time for the November 2012 elections.

The court will allow South Carolina to implement its law in 2013.

"The court today recognized that, under such a tight time frame and with the November election quickly approaching, South Carolina's proposed photo identification measure would be harmful to minority voters," said Leah Aden, Assistant Counsel of the LDF's Political Participation Group. "Today, South Carolina's joins three other states – Texas, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – whose photo ID measures have been blocked by courts." 

"The evidence in this case compelled this conclusion," said Ryan Haygood, Director of LDF's Political Participation Group. "South Carolina simply could not satisfy it's burden of showing that African American registered voters, who are nearly 20 percent more likely to lack a photo ID issued by the State's Department of Motor Vehicles than white registered voters, would not be harmed by its proposed law in next month's election."

Nationally, 25% of African Americans and 16% of Latinos lack a government-issued photo ID.

In the lawsuit, LDF represents the South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, and an African American student voter who attends Benedict College, a historically Black college in South Carolina, as Defendant-Intervenors in this case.

In the wake of this decision, particularly in the lead up to 2013 when the law goes into effect, the South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP will continue its critical efforts to protect against voter confusion and to ensure that all voters have an opportunity to cast a ballot that is counted.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Inc. represents Black voters in several additional voting rights cases, such as Texas v. Holder, a case involving a discriminatory photo ID measure in Texas that a federal court rejected in August and is being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court; and Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, a case challenging the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act. Shelby County, which earlier lost its constitutional challenge, is currently seeking review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Since its founding in 1940 by Thurgood Marshall, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund has been involved in nearly all of the precedent-setting litigation relating to minority voting rights.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund argued the 2009 U.S. Supreme Court case, Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. 1 v. Holder, which left Section 5 of the VRA's important protections intact. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund has represented many of the civil rights movement's leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund has been a separate entity from the NAACP since 1957. 

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund's report on the recent assault on voting rights, Defending Democracy: Confronting Modern Barriers to Voting Rights in America, is available here.

Contact: Valerie Holford at 301-926-1298 or           

SOURCE NAACP Legal Defense Fund