U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and U.S. Congressman Trey Gowdy (South Carolina-4) have sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder urging him to uphold South Carolina's Voter ID law.
"South Carolina passed a Voter ID bill, complied with federal law by submitting it for pre-clearance, and was ultimately vindicated by the October 10 ruling," said Graham and Gowdy. "Appealing the Court's ruling will cost both the Federal government and the State of South Carolina more money in litigation costs; money that can be better utilized in other areas. The facts are clear and are why the Court upheld South Carolina's common-sense Voter ID law. The ruling should not be challenged."
Full text of the letter is below:
October 11, 2012
The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530
Dear Attorney General Holder:
Yesterday, the D.C. District Court issued a unanimous decision to grant pre-clearance to South Carolina's recently enacted Voter ID law (Act R54). In doing so, the Court confirmed our beliefs and previous statements that Act R54 has neither a discriminatory effect nor purpose. We strongly support the Court's decision and encourage you to respect the verdict.
Appealing the Court's ruling will cost both the Federal government and the State of South Carolina more money in litigation costs; money that can be better utilized in other areas. Further, the Supreme Court has already held that Voter ID laws are legitimate and important state interests.
The facts are clear and are why the Court upheld South Carolina's common-sense Voter ID law.
In May 2011, South Carolina passed Act R54 in an effort to improve the integrity of the South Carolina voting system. To achieve this goal, the law requires voters to present a photo ID at the polls. Not only does Act R54 expand the list of qualifying photo IDs, including one that is free, but it allows voters without a photo ID to still cast a ballot. The voter simply has to show his voter registration card and sign a "reasonable impediment" affidavit swearing that he is the elector on the poll list and stating the reason he was unable to obtain a photo ID.
Pursuant to the requirements of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, South Carolina submitted Act R54 to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for pre-clearance. According to data South Carolina included in its submission, the disparity between white and black voters without qualifying ID was less than 1.6%. To address this and other potential concerns surrounding voters affected by the law, South Carolina also submitted its new voter education materials, its plan to implement the free photo ID program to assist those without qualifying ID in obtaining one, and a SC Attorney General Opinion explaining a broad interpretation of the "reasonable impediment" standard. Nevertheless, DOJ denied preclearance shortly thereafter.
Following the denial, South Carolina filed suit challenging the DOJ determination. After a weeklong trial and a round of oral arguments, South Carolina successfully defended its law. The Court concluded that, "[m]uch of the rhetoric surrounding the law was based on a misunderstanding of how the law would work." The Court went on to unanimously pre-clear every challenged section of Act R54.
In conclusion, we request that you respect South Carolina law and not challenge the unanimous decision of the Court. Act R54 does not have a discriminatory effect on any class of voters, but instead serves to protect each vote cast. The pre-clearance takes effect beginning in the 2013 election cycle. This provides ample time for South Carolina voters to obtain qualifying voter ID.
South Carolina passed a Voter ID bill; complied with federal law by submitting it for pre-clearance; and was ultimately vindicated by the October 10 ruling. Yesterday's ruling should not be challenged.
We look forward to your timely response. Thank you.
Lindsey O. Graham