The South Carolina House spent most of Wednesday debating the voter identification ID bill also known as the Election Law Reform Act before passing the legislation on a key vote. The bill would require a person to have photo identification in order to cast a vote.
Republicans say it’s a way of reducing voter fraud. Democrats say there has been no voter fraud, and it’s just a way of discouraging voters from voting.
Williamsburg Democrat Ken Kennedy said lawmakers should be opening the voting process more, allowing a long early voting period, as neighboring states do, not closing the process.
(Kennedy on voter ID MP3 2:57)
Kennedy on Voter ID
The proposal would also allow for three days during which voters could vote early, without having to give a reason, as they currently do for absentee voting. The amended version from the Senate stipulated 15 days. Georgia and North Carolina allow early voting for 30 and 40 days, respectively.
The Department of Motor Vehicles would provide free identification cards, paid for by the state.
House Speaker Bobby Harrell says currently, poll workers have almost no means of positively determining that a voter is actually who they claim to be casting a ballot. Harrell says a photo ID is required to do just about anything in today’s society, including boarding a plane, cashing a check or buying cough medicine.
Bamberg County Democrat Bakari Sellers said that there have been no cases of voter fraud in South Carolina during the last five years. He told Kennedy that the requirement would cost the state close to $1 million at a time when it could be least afforded.
Sumter County Democrat David Weeks said there are more than 178,000 registered voters in South Carolina who don’t have IDs. He said more than 48,000 of those are senior citizens. Weeks said the state paying for all of those photo IDs, at around $5 each, would be very expensive.
(Weeks on voter ID MP3 3:06)
Weeks on voter ID
Kennedy proposed several unsuccessful amendments that he said would ease the bill’s effect on the elderly and impaired, like one which would allow voters to submit photo ID after they vote. He said the legislation is connected to voter turnout before President Obama was elected.
It frightened them to death. It drove them nuts. And that’s where the tea party came in. They woke up one morning and went completely bonkers. They said, ‘Oh my God, ‘ when they saw that guy being inaugurated on television, and they said, ‘My God, he’s a…’ They went nuts. And that’s what this is all about.