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New study says South Carolina voter ID law could prevent thousands from voting in November

South Carolina is suing the Department of Justice in a Washington, D.C. district court over its recent rejection of the state’s newly-passed voter ID law. 

The law would require voters to show state-issued photo identification at the polls.  And as WHQR’s Rachel Lewis Hilburn reports, if South Carolina wins its legal challenge against the DOJ ruling, thousands of Americans may not be able to vote this November.


Researchers at the Brennan Center for Justice, part of New York University’s School of Law, set out to investigate the claim made by advocates of voter ID laws that free voter ID is easy to get and most voters won’t be troubled by the new requirement. 

“What we found is actually quite striking.  It’s going to be difficult for a lot of Americans to obtain voter identification in time for the election.” 

That’s Principal Quantitative Analyst Sundeep Iyer. In South Carolina, there are about 275,000 eligible voters who live more than 10 miles from a state ID issuing office that’s open more than two days a week.  Iyer says about 7,000 of those people don’t have access to a vehicle. 

Supporters of the voter ID law say it will prevent voter fraud.  But Iyer says that claim has been repeatedly and scientifically disproved. 

“You’re more likely to get struck by lightening than you are to see voter fraud happen.  It’s just something that doesn’t really happen very often.  I understand the concern for election integrity and it’s a perfectly reasonable one.  But there are ways to maintain the integrity of our elections without depriving people of the right to vote.” 

The trial over the legality of the SC voter ID law could take place near the end of August.   

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.