Justice Department to monitor South Carolina congressional election

Updated
Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch looks over at former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford during the South Carolina 1st Congresional debate in Charleston,...
Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch looks over at former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford during the South Carolina 1st Congresional debate in Charleston,...
Randall Hill/Reuters

The Justice Department will monitor Tuesday’s special election for the South Carolina First District congressional seat in an effort to enforce the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Under South Carolina’s new law which requires photo identification for voters, Tuesday’s close election between former South Carolina Republican Governor Mark Sanford and Democratic candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch, sister of political satirist Stephen Colbert, will lawfully prohibit any discrimination based on race, color or membership in a minority language group.

While the Justice Department monitors primary elections, the department did not specify a reason for monitoring South Carolina’s race to fill a House seat, left by Republican Tim Scott when he was appointed by Governor Nikki Haley to the Senate last December.

Hundreds of federal monitors are deployed yearly to monitor elections throughout the country, according to the department.

A recent Public Policy Polling survey shows that Mark Sanford is currently leading newcomer Elizabeth Colbert Busch by a single percentage point, with added momentum for the former governor. Two weeks ago, Colbert Busch led Sanford in the left-leaning polling by nine points at 50% to 41%.

Sanford, who is running for a seat he once held, has been trying to make a political comeback after revelations of an extramarital affair derailed his political ambitions two-and-a-half years ago. More recently, he was accused of trespassing on his ex-wife, Jenny Sanford’s home. It’s a busy week for Sanford – he will face a court hearing Thursday on those trespass allegations.

Following his former wife’s charges, the National Republican Congressional Committee dropped its financial support of Sanford’s campaign in April.

South Carolina’s first district has been held by a Republican for over three decades and Mitt Romney won the district by 18 percentage points in the 2012 presidential election. A win by Colbert Busch would not affect the political climate of the House of Representatives, where the majority is held by Republicans.

Political analysts have said the outcome of the special election will depend on voter turnout and whether or not voters will be swayed by Sanford’s personal baggage.

Justice Department to monitor South Carolina congressional election

Updated