WASHINGTON (AP) Attorneys planned to wrap up testimony Friday in the federal trial over whether South Carolina's voter ID law discriminates against minority voters.
The Obama administration rejected the law requiring voters show specific photo ID at the polls, which prompted South Carolina's lawsuit.
Closing arguments won't be delivered until Sept. 24, bringing a decision close to the Nov. 6 elections. But a three-judge panel struck down Texas' voter ID law on Thursday. The law, like South Carolina's, was subject to Justice Department approval because of the states' history of discrimination against minorities.
In the weeklong testimony before a different three-judge panel, South Carolina sought to show the law was intended to detect fraud and build the public's confidence in the integrity of the election system. State lawmakers who testified denied they had they intended to discriminate when they passed the law.
But lawyers for the Justice Department and groups opposed to the law have raised doubts about the state's intent by introducing an email exchange with the law's House sponsor, state Rep. Alan Clemmons. They also questioned witnesses about earlier versions of the voter ID bill that became law were less strict and raised questions about how the state will carry out a provision allowing people to vote without photo ID if they claim a "reasonable impediment" to obtaining the required identification.
"The purpose of (the South Carolina law) was to burden minority voters to a greater extent than white voters and therefore to depress their turnout," Ted Arrington, political science professor at University of North Carolina, Charlotte, testifying for the government, said Friday.
The South Carolina law allows people to vote if they can show a driver's license or other photo ID issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles, a passport, military ID with photo, or a voter registration card that includes a photo.
On Thursday, the panel of the U.S. District Court in Washington asked South Carolina to provide more information about how the state would implement the "reasonable impediment" provision.
Marci Andino, executive director of the state election commission, said voters who could not produce any of the five IDs would be asked if they had a reasonable impediment and asked to sign an affidavit that would be notarized at the polls.
Opponents' lawyers tried to show that the law is vague and gives a lot of leeway to 46 county boards to decide separately what qualifies as a reasonable impediment. Andino said the poll managers would likely err on the side of the voter but also acknowledged that the counties would have discretion to decide whether they had grounds to believe a claim was false.