South Carolina lawmakers question Justice’s decision on voter ID law

“It is troubling that scarce funds are likely being wasted opposing common sense legislation that was cleared by the Department’s own nonpartisan experts,” lawmakers wrote. “We must understand the Department’s rationale for fighting this law when experts within DOJ deemed it acceptable. Taxpayer dollars are not meant to be spent on partisan projects by the administration.”

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South Carolina passed a voter ID law in 2011, requiring all voters to present a valid photo ID when casting a ballot. Several other states have passed similar legislation recently. South Carolina is subject to the Voting Rights Act, and therefore has to get approval from the Justice Department before implementing election laws. The two lawmakers said they thought the law would be upheld because an exception was added that voters without IDs could still vote if they swore to an affidavit verifying their identity.

Democrats have called voter ID laws a form of voter suppression for groups that typically vote Democratic: college students, elderly people and minorities since they're less likely to have state IDs. 

Graham and Gowdy said they believe political appointees, such as Holder, have ignored facts about laws for politically motivated reasons in the past and that the same might be occurring now.

“We assume President Obama would be equally outraged if the same problem festered in his own Justice Department and would move swiftly to discipline those involved,” the letter stated. “Accordingly, we ask you to assist the [Judiciary] Committee in conducting oversight of DOJ’s enforcement powers with respect to voting rights and election law by providing all DOJ documents regarding, discussing or otherwise relevant to the Department’s preclearance decision on the South Carolina law.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) also signed the letter because he is defending a similar voter ID law in Texas.