Judicial Watch • Voting Rights Act of 1965

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(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and fights government corruption, announced today that on June 6, 2012 it filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:12-cv-00922)) against the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) to obtain records related to the agency’s decision to block a section of South Carolina Act R54 that would require voters to present photo identification when voting.

Pursuant to FOIA requests filed with the DOJ on February 6, 2012, Judicial Watch seeks the following records:

Any and all records regarding, concerning or related to the Civil Rights Division’s denial of pre-clearance of Section 5 of South Carolina Act R54 (A27 H3003) pursuant to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 42 U.S.C. § 1973c.;

Any and all records of communication regarding, concerning or related to South Carolina Act R54 (A27 H3003) between any official or employee of the Civil Rights Division and any other individual or entity.

The DOJ acknowledged receipt of the request on February 16, 2012. By law, a response was due no later than March 29, 2012. However, to date the DOJ has failed to respond.

In May 2011, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed R54 into law.

Under the Voting Rights Act (Section 5), some states, including South Carolina, must have changes to voting laws “pre-cleared” by the DOJ. On December 23, 2011, the Obama DOJ notified South Carolina that it was denying “preclearance” for Section 5 of the state’s election integrity law, claiming the provision would suppress minority voting. This was the first law of its type in 20 years to be denied “preclearance” by the DOJ.

On February 7, 2012, the State of South Carolina sued Attorney General Eric Holder to have a three-judge panel to declare R54 consistent with federal law (South Carolina v. Holder (No. 1:12-cv-0203))..

South Carolina counters in its lawsuit, that the new voter ID measures “are not a bar to voting but a temporary inconvenience no greater than the inconvenience inherent in voting itself.” South Carolina also argues that its law is similar to a law passed by the State of Indiana that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and ACLU of South Carolina filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit on February 24, 2012.

“There is no doubt the Obama Justice Department is acting as a legal front for the Obama campaign and leftist special interest groups. South Carolina’s photo ID provision is a lawful attempt to ensure the integrity of every vote. But the Justice Department has no interest in stopping voter fraud because this would interfere with the effort to re-elect Barack Obama by hook or by crook.  The secrecy we are fighting in court suggests that Holder’s agency has something to hide.  The American people have a right to know how why the Obama administration has such a distaste for clean elections.”

As part of its 2012 Election Integrity Campaign, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA lawsuit on June 1, 2012, against the Obama DOJ to obtain records detailing the agency’s communications with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) regarding Pennsylvania House Bill 934, commonly referred to as Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law. The ACLU and allied organizations have filed a lawsuit to prevent the law, signed by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett on March 14, 2012, from taking effect before the November elections.

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