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Caucus Report 2- Strengthening Our Democracy

The following update is the official weekly report of the Republican House Caucus –

Members of the House and Senate were busy this week holding public hearings on legislation, so much time was not spent in full session.  The committees worked hard pushing conservative legislation through the state House.

The House Judiciary Committee approved a major priority of not only the Republican Caucus, but for the state Republican Party as well – the so-called “Voter ID” bill.

In South Carolina, you must present a photo identification to purchase Sudafed.  You must present a photo identification to board an airplane.  You have to present one to cash a check.  If you are of a certain age, you have to have one to buy alcohol or cigarettes.  You have to have one to purchase a firearm.

Currently, you do not need to have a government-issued identification to vote in South Carolina.  We believe that it is critical to the integrity of our election process that you prove who you are when you cast your ballot to elect your public officials.  Voting is a constitutionally protected right – as is owning a firearm – and cannot be abridged. 

Voting is more than a right.  It is a responsibility of all of our citizens, and it is a responsibility that too many of us do not take seriously.

For the past two years, the House Republicans have ushered through legislation that would require voters to present valid government-issued photo identification when they vote.  Despite the vocal opposition from Democrats, this bill has nothing to do with voter suppression or abridging someone’s right to vote.  This legislation protects the “one person, one vote” right for those of us who are not trying to game the system.  As one Republican lawmaker said, we are ensuring “one person and ONLY one vote.”

Currently, almost anybody could vote as somebody else, as long as they have that person’s voter registration card.  This is a major hole in our election laws, and one that the U.S. Supreme Court said could be closed.

Do we have to wait until we have proof of widespread fraud before we close a loophole that we know exists?  Today, anybody could grab your voter identification card, which does not have your photo on it, and cast a ballot as you, and then do it again, and again, and again provided they have other people’s identification cards.

There are fees that you must pay to get these cards.  So, the House bill abolishes the $5 fee for anybody who can’t afford the fee for an identification card. That way, money will not prevent anyone from getting these cards and therefore prevent someone from voting because they can’t afford one.

This legislation also creates a more streamlined absentee voting process, so we can ensure the precinct books are updated in a timely fashion before Election Day. This will ensure a secure, regulated, and orderly voting process.

It is not the intention of the Republicans to disenfranchise anybody.  As Republicans, we want every legally eligible person to vote.  It is what makes our democracy strong, but the key word here is “legally.”