3each county’s elections office. Also, under Act R54, DMV photo ID cards may be obtained ateach county’s DMV office for free; those cards cost $5 under pre-existing law.In short, Act R54 allows citizens with non-photo voter registration cards to still votewithout a photo ID so long as they state the reason for not having obtained one; it expands thelist of qualifying photo IDs that may be used to vote; and it makes it far easier to obtain aqualifying photo ID than it was under pre-existing law. Therefore, we conclude that the newSouth Carolina law does not have a discriminatory retrogressive effect, as compared to thebenchmark of South Carolina’s pre-existing law. We also conclude that Act R54 was notenacted for a discriminatory purpose. Act R54 as interpreted thus satisfies Section 5 of theVoting Rights Act, and we grant pre-clearance for South Carolina to implement Act R54 forfuture elections beginning with any elections in 2013. As explained below, however, given theshort time left before the 2012 elections, and given the numerous steps necessary to properlyimplement the law – particularly the new “reasonable impediment” provision – and ensure thatthe law would not have discriminatory retrogressive effects on African-American voters in 2012,we do not grant pre-clearance for the 2012 elections.
I. Legal and Factual BackgroundA. The Voting Rights Act and Act R54
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is among the most significant and effective pieces of legislation in American history. Its simple and direct legal prohibition of racial discrimination invoting laws and practices has dramatically improved the Nation, and brought America closer tofulfilling the promise of equality espoused in the Declaration of Independence and theFourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution.