The Buzz: S.C. elections more secure? Really?

gnsmith@thestate.comOctober 14, 2012 

A three-judge federal panel ruled last week that South Carolina’s voter ID law does not violate the federal Voting Rights Act.

The law, which purports to require voters to present a state-approved ID with their picture at the polls before casting a ballot, will not take effect until 2013.

But from Buzz’s reading of the judges’ ruling, the law really seems to have changed ... er, ah ... nothing.

The new law’s “expansive ‘reasonable impediment’ provision” – elaborated on by state officials during the recent federal trial – makes it unlikely that any voter without a photo ID would be turned away from casting a ballot at the polls. Those ID-less voters still can vote “so long as they state the reason for not having obtained” a photo ID, the judges said.

Legitimate reasons for not having an ID could include not having transportation to get one, not having time to get one, not having money for gas to drive to a voter office, and on and on. The list seems endless. However, the judges literally, in their order, did rule out ID-less voters, saying, “I don’t want to,” “I hate this law” and, “The moon is made of green cheese, so I didn’t get a photo ID.”

(No word on whether saying, “The Mayans said civilization was coming to end, and I had better things to do” would cut it as a legitimate excuse.)

Oddly enough, Republican lawmakers – from Gov. Nikki Haley to state Attorney General Alan Wilson to legislators – are hailing the ruling as a victory.

Really?

Buzz is declaring the whole thing a waste of time and state money, and a victory for the status quo.

Take my state, PLEASE!

Looks like the guv is warming up for a late-night talk-show gig.

Gov. Nikki Haley whipped out a couple of knee-slappers to entertain her fans on Tuesday.

Before giving them a proclamation Tuesday morning, Haley quipped to a group of white-lab-coated pharmacists: “I would be lost without you.”

That afternoon, she tweeted about her suggestion that South Carolina sell its two airplanes after she had to pay $9,590 for flights that lawmakers no longer consider official state business.

Haley tweeted: “Get Excited! Someone just hit ‘Buy It Now’ on eBay and the state plane is gone! .... Just kidding!”

Wait! The Buzz better check eBay to make sure the guv hasn’t put the State Museum or SCETV up for sale. ... Whewww, no.

Up Next: Ethics Reform

The House Republican Caucus Friday scheduled three committee meetings to discuss reforming the state’s seriously weak ethics laws.

The meetings, open to the public, are:

•  Thursday, Nov. 1, at 10 a.m. in Room 101 of the Blatt Building at the State House complex.

•  Thursday, Nov. 8, at 10 a.m., also in Room 101 in the Blatt Building.

•  Wednesday, Nov. 28, at 1 p.m. Location to be determined.

Don’t get the Buzz going on the many problems in the state’s dated ethics laws.

But to give you a small taste:

•  Lawmakers do not have to disclose the private companies they work for, even if those companies stand to gain financially by laws passed by the General Assembly.

•  Lawmakers do not have to give out details about their legislative pensions, sweetheart deals superior to the pensions that state employees receive. A one-sentence law, passed in 2002, lets legislators receive a taxpayer-funded pension instead of a salary after 30 years of service. As of April, more than 40 percent of the state Senate and 7 percent of House members had “retired” but remained in office, receiving lifetime retirement pay.

•  Also, a recent court decision allows the state’s political parties and other groups to accept and raise unlimited donations while not disclosing where the money came from.

Want to testify before the committee? Contact Jason Zacher at jason@schousegop.com or call the caucus office at (803) 734-3139.

Staff writer Andrew Shain contributed

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