Court Clears South Carolina Law for 2013 Implementation

PHOTO: Voting stickers sit on a table for people voting with absentee ballots on site at the Miami-Dade County elections office, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012 in Miami.PlayLynne Sladky/AP Photo
WATCH Rahm Emanuel Casts His Ballot For Chicago Mayor

A South Carolina law that requires voters to show photo identification will not go into effect until the start of next year, a federal court ruled on Wednesday.

A U.S. District Court panel of judges ruled that the law does not discriminate against racial minorities, but said not enough time remains before the November election for state officials to implement the law.

The ruling is the latest decision in the ongoing issue of voter ID laws, many of which have been challenged in court in the run-up to the presidential election. A judge in Pennsylvania recently said that the state's controversial photo ID law can go into effect next year, but not before the election.

While Republicans have argued that the laws help prevent voter fraud, instances of in-person voter fraud are actually rare. No case has ever been reported in Pennsylvania, for example.

The South Carolina law is less stringent than voter ID laws in some other states. It allows people with a non-photo voter registration card to vote without presenting photo identification if they state a reason for not having one.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson was pleased with the ruling.

"The fact remains, voter ID laws do not discriminate or disenfranchise; they ensure integrity at the ballot box," he said in a statement.

But the American Civil Liberties Union expressed concern about what will happen when the law is implemented.

"We're glad that thousands of voters who faced being denied access to the polls will get to vote next month, but are concerned about what lies ahead,:" said Nancy Abudu, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Voting Rights Project in a statement. "This is a law that remains harmful regardless of when it is implemented."