A bill to require possession of a state-issued photo ID in order to vote has passed the Senate and goes back to the House, where it will likely face more changes. The Senate amended the House version to exempt people 65 and older from the ID requirement. The Senate measure also adds 11 days of early voting.
Senators stayed into the evening to hammer out the bill. Senate bill sponsor, Chip Campsen of Charleston says, “We put our heads down, worked hard, and came through for the people of South Carolina today. Voter ID will help secure our state’s elections and remove doubt about the legitimacy of the final result.”
Campsen has been working with the measure for two years. He says with more than 300 amendments on the bill and filibuster from Democrats, some concessions were needed.
Opponents still worry about the potential to disenfranchise many voters. Richland Senator Joel Lourie took the podium before the final vote Thursday, saying there are 178,000 in the state who do not have a state-issued photo ID and their current right to vote will change.
The House and Senate must reach a compromise on the two versions. The state GOP issued a statement today saying they favor the House version:
Some important differences remain between the House and Senate versions of this bill – and we have been clear from day one that the House version remains the version preferred by our Party as a more conservative piece of legislation. As the House and Senate go through the conference committee process, it is our hope that the final version of this legislation moves closer to what the House initially adopted.
The bill in the past legislative session was stymied in conference committee. Campsen, who was not aware that his party had issued this statement, says “The Senate’s a different place…by the founding father’s design.”
You can make a point or you can make a difference and I believe in making a difference. You can push for something that’s more stringent over here in the Senate and if you can’t get it done, you haven’t made a difference, have you? What you can get done, you have made a difference.
If the voting bill makes it out of the General Assembly, it must then be reviewed by the U.S Justice Department.
The SC NAACP, the League of Women Voters of South Carolina and AARP SC have protested the bill, saying it will have an adverse effect on voter participation.