In terms of making it easier for people, especially young citizens, to exercise their right to vote, South Carolina is not making the grade. According to the recently-released “Rock the Vote” Voting System Scorecard, South Carolina finished tied with Virginia in garnering the lowest marks. “Rock the Vote” Vice President Thomas Bates says South Carolina has not made a concerted effort to make it easier for people to register to vote.
Neighboring North Carolina finished tied with Oregon for the fourth-highest score. Bates says that North Carolina has been more progressive in enacting efforts to make it easier for persons to register and cast ballots.
However, Bates says he finds it disturbing that North Carolina seems now to backsliding in its efforts as lawmakers are looking into enacting a photo I.D. measure. They are also considering ending same-day registration. Bates says North Carolina also lost some points because they ended the requirement that high school civics be taught and tested.
In 1979, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that students have the right to register and vote where they are in school. Bates says despite that protection, states often enact laws that make it more challenging for student residents to participate in elections. Bates says South Carolina lawmakers have placed another barrier to voters casting ballots with the passage of legislation that requires them to present a government-issued photo ID at the polls. Bates says the measure will make it more difficult for college students to vote.
Bates says there are indications around the country that the implementation of more barriers will faces legal challenges. The South Carolina Democratic Party has announced it plans to mount a legal challenge against the redistricting plan passed by the South Carolina House Tuesday.
Bates acknowledges that the record numbers of young people and minorities that voted in 2008 may fall precipitously in the next presidential election if the tougher barriers are allowed to stand, but adds organizations like “Rock the Vote” are working to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Washington finished at the top of the Rock the Vote scorecard, followed by Iowa, and Montana.