WASHINGTON — The Justice Department on Friday approved a controversial Georgia law requiring photo identification to vote. Opponents of the law immediately vowed to challenge the measure in federal court.
The decision, written by John Tanner, chief of the department's voting section, says that Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales doesn't object to the law but that approval doesn't preclude lawsuits against it.
"It's not over yet. We will pursue litigation in federal court," said state Rep. Tyrone L. Brooks Sr., a Democrat and president of the Georgia Assn. of Black Elected Officials.
Democratic lawmakers had argued that the Republican-backed measure was a political move to depress voting among minorities, the elderly and the poor -- all traditional bases for Democrats.
Currently, Georgia voters without a photo ID can use a Social Security card, birth certificate or utility bill as identification at the polls.
Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue signed the measure in April. Justice Department approval was required before it could take effect. Under the Voting Rights Act, Georgia and other states with a history of suppressing minority voting must get federal permission to change their voting laws.