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NAACP wants to join voter ID lawsuit

COLUMBIA (AP) — The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People wants to get involved in a federal lawsuit over South Carolina’s voter ID law, saying it would hinder black college students from voting.

The NAACP represents five black students at Benedict College in Columbia. Last week, the civil rights group wrote to a three-judge panel that those students wouldn’t be able to vote in November’s elections under the law because they couldn’t use school-issued ID cards at the polls.

In a previous election, the NAACP wrote, one of the students used a school ID as identification to vote. But under the new law, that same student would need a driver’s license or other government-issued ID to cast a ballot. The group wrote “these students’ voting rights are threatened in the very state where they live and are, or have, registered to vote.”

If implemented, the South Carolina law would also make it harder for the state NAACP chapter to register new voters and make voting more accessible for its members, the group said.

The Justice Department blocked the law in December, saying it could keep tens of thousands of the state’s minorities from casting their ballots. It was the first such rejection in nearly 20 years.

Justice officials also said the law failed to meet requirements of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which requires the Justice Department to approve changes to South Carolina’s election laws because of the state’s past failure to protect blacks’ voting rights.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson is suing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, arguing the law is not discriminatory and is similar to one in Indiana that has already been upheld.

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