While voter ID has, unfortunately, become a political issue here in South Carolina, it should not be. The election process in America is one of the most important aspects of what we, as Americans, stand for.
Recently the U.S. Department of Justice has determined that South Carolina’s Voter ID legislation that passed both houses of the General Assembly and was signed by Gov. Nikki Haley is illegal.
According to the Department of Justice it would disenfranchise thousands of voters – in particular, those who are poor or are minorities.
First of all, the law simply states that anyone who wishes to vote should present to their poll manager an ID that includes a picture that is issued by the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, either a driver’s license or a DMV identification card.
This is the same sort of ID that is required to open a checking account, board an airplane, obtain food stamps, obtain unemployment compensation, ad infinitum.
We all need a picture ID to do most anything where government is involved.
As to dealing with those few people who are not included in the above, the governor has offered that they will do whatever is required to ensure that everyone who wishes to vote can vote. Simply stated, if there is a problem, there is a solution.
Is voter fraud here in South Carolina really a problem that needs to be addressed? Is it rampant? Can it change an election? Unless you accept the premise that it might or does exist, you cannot answer that question truthfully.
As a former election commissioner for seven years in Beaufort County, including four years as its chairman, let me assure you that voter fraud throughout South Carolina is far more prevalent than many might believe.
I have been asked not to detail the many ways that one can register to vote or to actually vote illegally, but please believe me, it is far easier than most might expect.
The problem is more about finding the violators in the first place than prosecuting those who are caught.
One small example: I can come into a precinct with a friend’s voter registration card and vote for him because that card has no picture on it.
Many states in America have adopted a voter ID program that is similar to what South Carolina is now attempting to enact. If South Carolina is wrong for doing so, what is the difference?
While the First and Second amendments to our Constitution are a part of what Americans stand for, is not our right to have fair elections a cornerstone as well?
The rules are simple: You must be an American citizen, you cannot be a convicted felon, you must actually live in the precinct where you are attempting to vote, and you must be 18 or older. Sounds simple. Why isn’t it?
Tom Hatfield is a Citizen Reporter for The Nerve who lives on Hilton Head Island.