Wednesday, November 7, 2012
The recent court ruling on South Carolina’s voter ID law is both good news and bad news. The good news is that a court ruled that the state’s voter ID law will not be in force for this election. The bad news is that voter ID is still a very bad idea, for any election.
On the surface, the state’s new voter ID bill “seems right” – require a picture ID to stop voter fraud. Sure, stop fraud and IDs are no problem. What’s the big deal, everyone already has a driver’s license or state issued photo ID, right?
Wrong, dead wrong.
The truth is that this law has nothing to do with voter fraud and everything to do with making it harder for 178,000 registered voters to exercise their right to vote, simply because most of them are likely to vote Democratic.
This is real simple.
At the heart of this issue are two, simple undeniable facts.
Fact One: There is no problem. The whole bugaboo of “voter fraud” in this bill is a total and complete sham.
The bill requires a voter to show a state issued driver’s license or picture ID along with their voter registration card before they can vote. This is to supposedly stop someone from voting with another person’s voter registration card – legally it is called “voter impersonation.”
It doesn’t happen. According to the non-partisan State Election Commission, there has not been a single case of voter impersonation in South Carolina “for decades” – not one, nada, zip, zero.
In fact, the Election Commission could not cite a single specific case of voter impersonation in South Carolina in the last 100 years.
Read the above paragraph again ….That’s right, there has never been a single recorded case in 100 years of voter impersonation in South Carolina – the supposed fraud that this bill is designed to stop.
Fact Two: There are 178,000 registered voters in this state who cannot vote under this law unless they go get a driver’s license or picture ID. These folks have been registered and voting for years without any problems using only their voter registration card. That will now be against the law.
Again, 178,000 existing duly registered legal voters – who can no longer vote unless they go and get new documentation.
There are many valid reasons why these 178,000 people do not have a valid state driver’s license or valid photo ID – they are disabled and don’t drive, the were born years ago in rural areas and don’t have a birth certificate, they are married and their names or addresses have changed, and on and on it goes.
The point is that none of these reasons even matter – if you have been voting with only your registration card – without a single problem – why should you have to go and get new documents now?
These facts are just that – clear, undisputed facts, i.e. no cases of voter impersonation and preventing 178,000 people with valid voter registration cards from voting. Do not take my word for it – call the SC Election Commission and ask them if these two facts are true – their phone number is (803) 734-9070.
So why was this bill passed by the Republican controlled legislature, without a single Democratic vote and signed by a Republican governor?
Why would these Republicans want to spend an estimated $3 million to $4 million dollars in tax money we don’t have, and create new bureaucratic regulations to force people to get these new picture IDs? (I thought Republicans were against this kind of thing.)
It’s very simple. An analysis of these 178,000 voters shows that a disproportionate share are black, old, live in rural areas, or are students who move often – i.e. the very groups that vote disproportionately Democratic.
That’s it. That’s what the whole voter ID controversy is all about – reducing the Democratic vote. That is it; nothing more and nothing less.
We all know that there is a lot of foolishness in politics with both sides trying to get a little advantage here and there; that’s natural. However, that’s not what this is all about.
This is different. The Republicans are trying to change the law, rig the system and damage our democratic system of free elections…simply to make it harder for some people to exercise their sacred right to vote…simply because they disagree with them.
That’s wrong, dead wrong.
Phil Noble is a businessman in Charleston and is the President of the S.C. New Democrats, an independent group started by former Gov. Richard Riley to promote big change and real reform in our state’s politics and government.