South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) has called her voter-ID law one of her signature accomplishments in public office. The voter-suppression measure, intended to eliminate fraud that appears to exist only in Republicans’ imaginations, was intended to go into effect this year.
The Justice Department had other ideas. Using the Voting Rights Act, federal officials intervened and blocked the controversial law from being implemented in 2012.
Haley, however, still thinks her law has a shot.
Gov. Nikki Haley’s administration will push ahead with the state’s controversial voter ID law for the Nov. 6 general election if it wins federal approval to do so anytime before the polls open.
The decision, revealed in new federal court filings, comes despite disagreement and uncertainty about how the measure would be implemented. […]
S.C. Deputy Attorney General Robert Cook said in a June 29 opinion that the law would take immediate effect upon approval by a three-judge panel hearing the case in U.S. District Court in Washington.
Here’s the deal: the Justice Department blocked the voter-ID law, which led to litigation in the federal courts. Haley’s administration believes it can win the case and then immediately try to implement the law.
The problem – well, one of the problems – is that the decision isn’t expected until September. For those mindful of the calendar, this means South Carolina, if it wins in court, intends to put a new, dubious voting law into effect less than two months before Election Day.
Will there be time to educate voters about the strict requirements? No. Will there be time to train staffers at individual precincts? No. Will there be time to clarify logistical questions? No. But Haley doesn’t care. She wants her law, gosh darn it, and she wants it now.
The state deputy attorney general said those who try to cast a vote without ID can cite the circumstances as a “reasonable impediment,” but (a) they’ll have to jump through additional hoops, cast a “provisional” ballot, and sign affidavits; (b) there’s widespread confusion about the legal definition of “reasonable”; and (c) this doesn’t speak to the possible chilling effect of voters who won’t show up because they assume they’re ineligible.
If I didn’t know better, I might think Haley and her allies are less concerned with the integrity of the voting process, and more concerned with keeping voters they don’t like from participating in their own democracy.