Passed in May, the new law directly affects 178,000 registered voters in South Carolina who are without, or with expired, state-issued photo identification cards.
The problem with the new law is the length of time it could take that high number of residents to receive new IDs. As a result, it can’t be enforced in elections this year, the U.S. Dept. of Justice said on Tuesday.
Robert Cook, deputy attorney general with DOJ, declared “such short time period is beyond the voter’s control.”
South Carolina's new law is yet to be formally approved by DOJ, which is required under the Voting Rights Act. A final ruling on its future use should be issued by the end of the month.
The state Election Commission agrees with Cook. Marci Andino, SEC exec. director, says there isn’t enough time to inform those particular voters before for the next elections in the state.
Municipal elections in the state are scheduled for as early as later this month; 10 different races in Charleston County alone take place on Nov. 8.
Making the transition even more difficult, Andino says, is the state’s lack of equipment to produce voter identification cards with photos, a planned project still underway in compliance with the new law.
“We’re waiting to find out if we get preclearance before we spend any money,” she told Associated Press.
South Carolinians seeking to comply with the new law are facing many difficulties, as well. Recent applications for state IDs by affected persons have been rejected or delayed for reasons ranging from non-certified birth certificates to change of name by marriage.
The 178,000 registered voters without current IDs are supposed to receive new ones at no cost, according to the new Voter ID law. The costs of acquiring the documents requested by the Dept. of Motor Vehicles in order to get such ID have neared $1,000 in some cases.
A final DOJ ruling on use of the Voter ID law should be issued by the end of the month.