Of Beaufort County’s 92,879 registered voters, 9,674 or just more than 10.4 percent will not be able to vote in the next election unless they obtain a state-approved photo identification card. The United State Department of Justice is reviewing South Carolina’s new voter ID law, which was pushed by Republican state lawmakers and signed into law by Gov. Nikki Haley in May. For the law to go into effect, the federal justice department must issue a decision under the Voting Rights Act, given South Carolina and other southern states’ history of discrimination.
The governor, however, announced that Sept. 28 will be “Identification Card Day,” which will allow any citizen 18 or older who has no valid driver’s license or identification card to request state-sponsored transportation to an office of the Department of Motor Vehicles. Reservations must be made by Sept. 22.
Statewide the new law would bar 178,175 of the state’s 2.5 million registered voters from voting, unless they obtained identification. The affected population with no driver’s license or approved ID makes up 6.96 percent of the state’s registered voters. Under the new law, a military ID or passport would also be OK.
In Jasper County, the new law would disqualify nearly the same percentage of voters as in Beaufort County. Of Jasper County’s 11,987 registered voters, 10.18 percent or 1,220 people would not be able to vote without obtaining a state-approved card either through their own means or by using the state-sponsored Identification Card Day.
Republicans have argued that imposing a photo ID requirement on citizens who wish to vote in elections is reasonable, considering that airline passengers must show ID, as do people who purchase certain medicines. Democrats, however, say the effort by South Carolina Republicans and the GOP nationwide is trying to suppress voter turnout in various states among blacks, the elderly and lower-income citizens in the next presidential election.
There have been no known instances in recent South Carolina history in which individuals have fraudulently presented themselves to vote, according to the S.C. State Election Commission.