Early last week, the US Department of Justice put a hold on South Carolina’s Voter ID law, instead requesting more information about the enforcement of the law. The DOJ responded Monday evening with a four-page letter consisting of questions and information that needed to be provided before approval of the law. South Carolina now has until Sept. 12 to respond. Then, the DOJ will once again have 60 days to respond. Given its terrible past dealing with the disenfranchisement of minorities, the Voter Rights Act requires states like South Carolina to have all voting law changes approved by either the US Department of Justice or a federal district court.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed the South Carolina voter ID law on May 18 of this year. The law requires that all of South Carolina’s registered voters present some form of a photo ID at the voting polls. The forms of photo ID that are accepted include a driver’s license or DMV-provided ID, a passport, a military ID, or a special voter ID card. Student ID’s or any other photo ID will not be accepted.
Supporters of the new law, most of whom are conservatives, claim that it will make the voting process more responsible by cutting out voter fraud. “Its just a simple means of commonly used technology to ensure the integrity of our ballots,” said Greg Foster, spokesman for SC House Speaker Bobby Harrell. “In South Carolina, you have to show a photo ID to do almost everything. This is not about any one individual or one set of individuals.”
But many have shown opposition, including many progressive groups, saying that the law is an obvious effort by the Republican party to suppress the minority and poor vote, which regularly votes overwhelmingly for the Democratic party in South Carolina. “We work for fair and free elections,” said Victoria Middleton, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina. “Fair means you have a level playing field … We see this [law] as a restrictive measure.”
The law prevents people who are unable to obtain a state-issued driver’s license or ID from voting. To obtain a driver’s license or ID in South Carolina, a birth certificate must be presented. Some voters don’t have a birth certificate, and therefore are unable to obtain a state-issued ID. Hence, this law would prove to be a problem for those voters who are already registered to vote, yet don’t have the necessary identification.
According to a 2010 report released by the SC Election Commission, 178,175 registered SC voters don’t have any form of state-issued photo identification. That means that if or when the law goes into affect, all of these voter would immediately be disenfranchised. Although some of these voters will ultimately obtain a photo ID, others are unable to do so, thus, killing their ability to vote. Is this right? Should it be considered acceptable to “ensure the integrity of our ballots” at the expense of the suffrage of other voters?
Full Article: COLUMN: SC Voter ID law put on hold | SCNOW.