During arguments Monday in the six-day trial in Washington, the three-judge panel challenged South Carolina attorneys about how the law would be implemented, as well as opposing counsel about why they reject efforts by election officials to lessen the law's possible negative impact on African-American voters, McClatchy Newspapers reported Tuesday.
The South Carolina law, which Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. blocked after it was enacted in May 2011, has national implications because it pits a state's right to prevent voter fraud against the federal government's 1965 Voting Rights Act mandate ensuring equal access to the polls for minority American voters.
The law would require a voter to show one of five forms of acceptable picture ID: a driver's license, a photo ID issued by the state Department of Motor Vehicles, a passport, military ID or a voter registration card with a photo issued by the local elections office.
Opponents argued that it would affect black South Carolinians disproportionately because 71,000 registered African-American voters don't have any of the five IDs – well above the number of registered white voters lacking proper ID -- and would have more trouble obtaining acceptable photo IDs because of their financial circumstances and where they live, McClatchy said.
U.S. District Judge John Bates indicated if the law is upheld, the court may prohibit it from being used in the November elections because there won't be enough time to educate voters and train poll workers.