State lawmakers are back in the Statehouse for a few days. On a 69-47 vote Tuesday the House also passed a conference report on the voter ID bill, also known as the Election Law Reform Act. The legislation 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 some voters from voting.
Bamberg County Democrat Bakari Sellers and others said the requirement would cost the state more than a million dollars. Supporters of the legislation say it would not be that costly. They also point out that the bill will allow 10 days of early voting. Voters who wish to cast their ballot early could do so for whatever reason. The original House version only contained three days. The Senate version contained 15 days. Currently South Carolina only has absentee voting, which is only allowed for certain reasons. Georgia and North Carolina allow early voting for 30 and 40 days, respectively.
Greenville Republican Harry Cato talked about the early voting option.
Currently 178,000 South Carolinians do not have a photo ID.
Richland County Democrat Joe Neal said the state has a history of voter suppression.
House Speaker Bobby Harrell says now poll workers have almost no means of positively determining that a voter is actually who they claim to be casting a ballot.
Sumter County Democrat David Weeks asked how lawmakers can spend money on something not needed when they are cutting programs like education left and right.
The measure contains an exception for those who object to being photographed for religious reasons. The Department of Motor Vehicles would provide free identification cards, paid for by the state.