The South Carolina House passed a final version of a bill that would require a person to show a photo identification card in order to vote in an election. Both House and Senate leaders agreed to the current bill in conference committee last week. Republican leaders are pushing the legislation, saying it gives more integrity to the voting process.
The bill would require a person to show either a drivers license, passport, or military ID in order to vote. Anyone who does not have a license could get a free ID card from the state.
Members of the Legislative Black Caucus held a press conference Tuesday morning to criticize the bill, saying it would effectively disenfranchise thousands of elderly and minority voters.
Members of the caucus also accused Republicans of “suppressing” the vote after strong turnout in the 2008 elections brought President Barack Obama into office. Legislation to require photo IDs for voting first appeared in 2009.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Alan Clemmons (R-Horry), said it’s not an attempt to stop voting, but protect it. He says there is no way to prove voter fraud under the current system.
I see this as an opportunity for South Carolina to give greater confidence to the voters… to know that, when they go and vote, their vote is not going to be diluted by those that… don’t have the right to vote.
Different versions of the bill have passed the House and Senate. The Senate version included a compromise that added a two-week early voting period. The conference committee dropped that provision after House leaders promised they would work on a separate early voting bill. That bill is scheduled to be heard in subcommittee Wednesday.
Rep. Todd Rutherford also spoke against the bill, saying South Carolina should encourage more voting, not discourage it. He says, even with the free IDs, there are many seniors and minorities who would probably still be unable to cast a ballot.
When did people come and complain and say the lines they waited in to vote weren’t long enough? That they wanted longer lines… when did they complain about that? People have no idea what we’re doing up here. We are simply disenfranchising those who can least afford it.
Clemmons said, without the legislation, there is no way for law enforcement to prove fraud exists.
They’ll be able to detect the fraud. They’ll be able to detect the impersonation going on at the polls. It’s a tool that we ave never had in South Carolina before. It’s been ruled by the Supreme Court to be an appropriate measure to ensure the integrity of elections. I’m not a bit ashamed to say that I am in favor of this bill.
The House passed the bill by a 71-36 vote. The Senate is not likely to take it up until Thursday at the earliest. Democrats have promised a filibuster. If the Senate does pass the bill, it would then head for the governor’s desk for her signature. Haley is expected to sign the bill into law.