Democratic state senators failed Wednesday in their efforts to remove funding from the proposed 2012-13 budget for the voter ID lawsuit, as floor debate on the spending plan continued for a second full week. The Senate defeated 24-17 an amendment stripping $1 million from the attorney general’s office for its fight with the federal government on a state law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. Subsequent attempts also failed. Republicans have argued the law is about preventing voter fraud. The federal government blocked the law in December, saying it could keep minorities from casting ballots. Attorney General Alan Wilson then sued in February.
Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, called it a bogus lawsuit. He wanted the money shifted toward Wilson’s efforts to block a water permit allowing Georgia to expand its port on the Savannah River, the biggest competitor to Charleston’s port. “Our state is going to spend $1 million to prevent our citizens from voting,” he said.
Republicans contend the law won’t disenfranchise anyone, but rather ensure people are who they say when they vote. Accepted identification under the law includes a driver’s license, other DMV-issued ID, passport, military ID, or yet-to-exist voter registration card with a photo. Judiciary Chairman Larry Martin noted the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Indiana’s voter ID law, passed in 2005. The $1 million is an estimated cost for South Carolina’s court fight.