House members passed a Voter ID bill last week that requires all individuals to show a photo ID to vote. Republicans says the bill will crack down on voter impersonation and fraud. But, Democrats say it will disenfranchise more than 100,000 people who do not have driver’s licenses in South Carolina.
Now, the Senate is looking into its own version of the bill. Charleston Senator Chip Campsen, Republican, was on SCETV’s “This Week in the Senate” and talked about his amendment to the Voter ID Bill.
You would have to present a photo ID when you vote, and if you don’t have an ID, you can get one free from the Department of Motor Vehicles. That’s one component of the bill, but what we added to it was an early voting period as well. People could vote 15 days out from the General Election.
And, Campsen says that 15-day early voting period would be without any excuses. The current law requires an excuse to vote early.
Orangeburg Senator John Matthews, Democrat, says this bill is causing the state to move backwards.
What the bill really does, it discriminates against two groups in our state. It discriminates against our senior citizens because it puts additional burdens on them. It affects about 178,000 people that it puts additional requirements on them. But, the biggest problem is that it also discriminates against minorities. By putting additional requirements, it will affect six percent more minorities than it does today.
In the back-and-forth dialogue with Matthews, Campsen replied to the discrimination factor:
You can make those conclusion remarks, but the truth is we modeled this legislation after Indiana law and Georgia law that had been vetted both by the Justice Department, the Georgia law was pre-cleared by the Justice Department. The US Supreme Court in 2008 upheld the Indiana law as constitutional, and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2009 upheld the Georgia law as constitutional.
However, Matthews says there are some errors in Campsen’s statements.
First of all, the laws in Georgia were pre-cleared under the, what we call, ‘Voter Registration Statute.” That statute will change. No southern states under the jurisdiction of the voting rights section has been pre-cleared since. Our statute will be pre-cleared under the new statute, which says if you have retrogression, or if you have any demonstrated discrimination, then it will be unconstitutional, and that’s the problem with this.
Senate members will take up Campsen’s amendments to the Voter ID Bill this week in the Judiciary Committee.