INDIANOLA, Iowa — Republican presidential hopefuls spent Saturday crisscrossing Iowa Saturday ahead of Tuesday's caucuses, but some candidates had one eye towards South Carolina's Jan. 21 primary and an issue that might help them gain traction in the Palmetto State.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., used a stop in Council Bluffs, Iowa, to accuse the Obama administration of trying to "steal elections" in the wake of the Justice Department's rejection of South Carolina's voter identification law.
The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division determined that the state's law requiring voters to show photo ID at polling places was discriminatory against minorities.
"...You have to ask, why is it that they are so desperate to retain the ability to steal elections and I think that what it comes down to," Gingrich said.
On Thursday, former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., also blasted the Justice Department ruling, accusing the administration of pursuing "common-sense anti-fraud measures that states have put in place all because they believe it's a partisan advantage for them to get people who probably shouldn't be voting to help them and their political cause."
South Carolina is one of more than a dozen mostly Republican-controlled states that have approved new voting laws that include requiring government-approved photo ID to register or vote; shortening early voting periods and curtailing voter registration efforts by third-party groups like the League of Women Voters or NAACP.
Supporters of the new laws say they are needed to protect against voter fraud, though several studies indicate that voter fraud in the United States is negligible.
Opponents say the new laws are a thinly veiled attempt to suppress the votes of minorities, the elderly and the young — key voting blocs for the Democratic Party.
An October study by New York University's Brennan Center for Justice estimates that the new laws would adversely impact more than five million voters nationwide, most of them minorities who lack sufficient government-sanctioned photo ID or the materials to obtain the ID.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, R, has vowed to fight the Justice Department ruling.
McClatchy Newspapers 2011