The South Carolina House passed a voter ID bill for the second time this year Wednesday, but took out compromise sections that were approved by the Senate last month.
The bill would require a person to present a photo identification card in order to vote in an election. It passed along party lines in January. A similar vote Wednesday passed 66-38. However, the House removed provisions that would have created an early voting period– a compromise Senate Republicans put forward to end a Democratic filibuster.
Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell said leaders wanted the bill to focus on voter ID only.
The issue of ensuring the integrity of our ballot has been centered on the single issue of using a picture ID to properly identify voters. Attaching other non-related voting provisions to this bill that have not been debated in the House at all will only muddy the waters and should be addressed in separate stand-alone legislation.
However, some were afraid the changes could prevent the bill from passing at all. GOP political consultant Wesley Donehue tweeted, “Everyone say thank you to the SC House of Representatives for working their butts off to kill the Voter ID bill.”
However, Rep. Garry Smith (R-Greenville) said he thought legislators could still work out a deal.
This is a voter ID bill. I don’t think that the House and the public really were looking for anything else. We’ve kept it very simple, kept it very basic. Only about voter ID, not about early voting.
Rep. Leon Stavrinakis (D-Charleston) said he would have voted in favor of the Senate bill, but voted against the House version. He recorded the comments in the House Journal.
Unfortunately, the House leadership refuses to allow an up or down vote on the Senate version… My constituents want early voting and voter I.D. through a system that provides a secure, fair voting process for all our citizens. The Senate version accomplishes these goals, the House versions do not.
The Senate could vote to approve the House version, otherwise the bill will go to a joint conference committee between both bodies.
Democrats, for their part, attacked the bill’s estimated $1.34 million cost. They also said it would disenfranchise low-income workers, minorities, and the elderly who are less likely to have a photo identification card. Rep. David Mack (D-Berkeley) said no examples of vote fraud have ever been prosecuted in South Carolina.
We kept asking the question… where is the fraud? Show us one example. Because, I submit to you, if this is a situation where the Democrats have been involved in fraud… we ain’t been doing a good job.
Republicans maintain that vote fraud is nearly impossible to prove without requiring photo identification. Rep. Doug Brannon (R-Spartanburg) said, while no cases have been prosecuted, there are plenty of examples in South Carolina.
I did a little bit of digging and what I came up with was 85 cases that deal with election fraud… from 2008 and 2007. These are cases where voter ID would have clarified and corrected that.
He specifically referred to the state Supreme Court case Armstrong v Atlantic Beach when voting “irregularities” resulted in a judge ordering a new mayoral election. The Court also heard arguments Tuesday in a similar case involving an Atlantic Beach town council race.