COLUMBIA, SC — Republican state senators want to make it easier for people to opt out of the states new voter ID law just not too easy.
Republicans tried Thursday to advance a bill that would allow voters to opt out of showing a photo ID at the polls if they signed a document saying why they had a reasonable impediment to getting one.
State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw, tried to amend the bill further to say that state and county officials may not review the reasonableness of the voters explanation as to why they could not get a photo ID.
But Republicans said Sheheens amendment would gut the voter ID law, which Republicans say is needed to eliminate fraudulent voting and Democrats say is intended to suppress minority turnout. In response to Sheheens amendment, Republicans vowed to keep the bill in subcommittee until the Democrat agreed to remove his amendment.
I have no desire whatsoever, as chairman of the (Judiciary) Committee, to mount another major and ... acrimonious debate in this committee or on the floor about voter ID, said state Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens. Weve had it. If we cant fix this without an acrimonious debate, its over. This bill stays right here.
In October, a federal three-judge panel upheld South Carolinas voter ID law as constitutional because it allowed people to opt out if they had a reasonable impediment to getting an ID. The courts decision also said state and county officials may not review the reasonableness of the voters explanation.
Sheheen said he was trying to match the state law with the courts decision.
What I want to do is make sure there is no confusion, make sure the law in accordance are complied with, Sheheen said. You just have to be honest and open and clear about it ... so you dont have confusion in the local election commissions, who would have a very difficult time reading a court case to determine how they were supposed to act.
Reach Beam at (803) 386-7038.