Ever since the Supreme Court upheld Indiana's photo ID law against a facial challenge, states have begun to enact photo ID laws. There are now 14 such laws on the books, and more in the pipeline. Another 15 states have some form of ID requirement, but not necessarily photo ID. A convenient summary of the laws is here. Photo ID laws enacted by Georgia, Texas, and South Carolina are subject to DOJ pre-clearance because they are covered jurisdictions under the increasingly antiquated section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The DOJ (in the Bush administration) cleared Georgia's law, but in December the Obama DOJ denied pre-clearance to South Carolina's law. The DOJ letter of denial is here. What stands out in the South Carolina denial is the flimsy evidence on which the DOJ based denial. Quoting the letter: "[T]he state's data show that 8.4% of white registered voters lacked any form of DMV-issued ID, as compared to 10.0% of non-white registered voters." While it is true that this disparity means that "minority registered voters were nearly 20% more likely to lack DMV-issued ID than white registered voters," it does not follow axiomatically that they are "thus ... effectively disenfranchised." The South Carolina law, as was true of Indiana's and Georgia's laws, has several methods to make photo ID easy and free in order to preserve the franchise. Photo ID may or may not be a good idea, but the use of the pre-clearance power to frustrate a racially neutral attempt to ensure an honest vote illustrates how anachronistic section 5 has become in practice. One can justly celebrate the benefits of section 5 and simultaneously doubt its current utility, to say nothing of its questionable status as a current exercise of the enforcement power.