Federal panel clears S.C. voter ID law for 2013 implementation

— A federal panel has cleared South Carolina’s controversial voter ID law, but it won’t go into effect until 2013.

COLUMBIA — A federal panel has cleared South Carolina’s controversial voter ID law, but it won’t be in effect on Election Day as the state wanted.

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the law can be implemented in 2013.

In a statement, S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson praised the decision.

“Today’s ruling by the three judge panel is a major victory for South Carolina and its election process,” he said. “It affirms our voter ID law is valid and constitutional under the Voting Rights Act. The fact remains, voter ID laws do not discriminate or disenfranchise; they ensure integrity at the ballot box.”

Wilson added that the ruling “also affirms South Carolina’s voter ID law should have been pre-cleared by the U.S. Justice Department.”

The Justice Department blocked the measure in December.

Gov. Nikki Haley celebrated the ruling with a post on her Facebook page.

“South Carolina just won the Voter ID case! Lawsuit by unions....WON! lawsuit by NLRB against Boeing..... WON! Protecting the integrity of the voting process by showing picture ID....WON! The Feds keep throwing punches but in South Carolina heels and boxing gloves prevail! This is another win for our state and country!” Haley wrote.

South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian said in a statement that he hopes the country’s highest court will eventually have a chance to rule on the state’s voter ID law.

“I am disappointed in the court’s decision to uphold South Carolina’s Voter ID law,” Harpootlian said. “The South Carolina Democratic Party strongly disagrees with the court’s opinion and is hopeful that the United States Supreme Court will resolve the differences between various Voter ID cases around the country.Fortunately, this decision does not go into affect until after the 2012 election so no photo ID is necessary for the November 6 general election.It’s time for this state to find solutions to real problems. Republicans Nikki Haley, John Courson, and Joan Brady have spent millions in taxpayer funds on this cure in search of a disease. Voters will have an opportunity this November to voice their disapproval and defeat Courson and Brady.”

Read the court’s decision here: https://ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2012cv0203-299

Check back here for more information as it becomes available and read more in tomorrow’s Post and Courier. Reach Stephen Largen at 864-641-8172 and follow him on Twitter @stephenlargen.