Justice Dept. OKs Rules for Georgia Voter Photo ID

The U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday approved rules governing Georgia's new photo IDs for voters, clearing the way for the State Election Board to decide whether to require them for the July 18 primary.

The rules establish what kinds of documents must be presented to obtain one of the free IDs, as well as where and when they will be distributed. Critics of the law — which mandates that all voters present a government-issued photo ID to cast a ballot — are expected to respond by seeking an injunction to block the law.

The Republican-backed law was passed in 2005, but a federal judge blocked enforcement, saying it amounted to an unconstitutional poll tax. The state Legislature amended the law early this year to make the IDs free of charge.

Under rules the Election Board adopted last week by a 3-1 vote, anyone needing a voter ID card must provide one or more documents showing date of birth, evidence of being registered to vote and proof of name and address.

Student ID cards, nursing home cards, a pilot's license, a birth certificate, a utility bill and a bank statement are among items on the long list of acceptable forms of ID.

Election Board members said last week that once they received approval from Washington they would decide whether the law could be implemented for the primary. A special meeting of the board has been called for Thursday.

However, board vice chairman Tex McIver said it was unlikely that the state could mount an effective voter education effort before the primary.