A compromise brought an end to a partisan stand-off over the Senate’s Voter ID bill. By a vote of 36-2, the measure was supported by a bipartisan majority. The bill sets up a new early voting process and requires photo ID to vote.
Senator John Land of Clarendon spent hours on the podium arguing against the bill. Thursday evening, he offered this olive branch: “This is a good compromise that protects the voter’s access to the polls and the integrity of our elections. Democrats’ priority from the beginning of this debate was to ensure that all registered voters would have uninterrupted access to the polls. I believe this plan keeps the polls open to all citizens and goes a long way to making voting more efficient in our state.”
As promised by Senate Democrats, debate for almost two days was long and spirited against the GOP-supported measure. In fact, the Senate adjourned at 10 pm Wednesday night. Debate included Greenville’s Ralph Anderson questioning the bill’s champion in the Senate, Chip Campsen of Charleston.
(Anderson, Campsen discuss bill MP3 :25)
Speaking for his aging constituents, Lexington’s Jake Knotts did take issue with his fellow Republican’s stance and added his to a long list of amendments to the measure. Knotts wanted seniors’ Medicaid cards to suffice as ID so that they would not have to get new voter registration cards made. Campsen says the card must have a photo on it.
Senator Campsen defends the bill, saying it was inspired by the recommendations of a Democrat.
“Jimmy Carter, our former Democratic president and James Baker, the former Republican chief-of-staff, and the result of their commission, their recommendation is that there should be a photo ID requirement, nationwide, when people vote. So I don’t understand why this is being painted as partisan issue, ” says Campsen.
Democrats say the Senate version of the Voter ID bill would take voting rights away from 178,000 current voters. Clarendon Senator John Land says he bets his legal career that that is not Constitutional. In the long stand-off, Land and Richland’s Joel Lourie offered support for voter photo ID going into effect with new registered voters.
(Lourie and Land team up MP3 :24)
A key element to the compromise for Democrats is that new voter IDs are not required in this next election. Republican Senator David Thomas says that he believes the bill should have been effective by then.