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South Carolina voter ID law goes before panel of judges

Amidst arguments that voter ID laws are unfair toward minorities, a panel of judges will determine whether South Carolina's voter ID law should go into effect before the election, or in 2014.

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Pennsylvania state representative Robert Freeman speaks to educate and inform on the topic of the Voter ID law in Easton’s Centre Square, Saturday in Easton, Pa. In South Carolina a panel of judges will determine if the state's voter ID law should be implemented.

Stephen Flood/AP

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Recognizing this year's elections are just a few weeks away, a panel of three federal judges questioned on Monday whether South Carolina should wait until 2014 to put its voter identification law into effect.

The judges raised the question as an attorney for South Carolina delivered closing arguments in the trial over whether the state's law discriminates against minorities. Last December, the Justice Department refused to "preclear" — find it complies with the Voting Rights Act — the law so it could go into effect.

A decision in the case is expected in early October.

Voter ID laws have become a point of contention in this year's elections, particularly with the close race between President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Democrats contend the laws could prevent key constituencies from voting, making a difference in tight races.

The laws' opponents see them as a Republican response to 2008's record turnout of African-American and Hispanic voters. Supporters have pitched the laws as tools against voter fraud and to build confidence in the election system.

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