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Caucus Report 12 – Voter ID Redux

For the last two years, there have been numerous discussions about the “Voter ID” legislation. After this week, the bill is one vote away from becoming reality.

The House considered the version of Voter ID amended by the Senate this week. It included numerous, unrelated issues approved to secure votes for final passage in the Senate. The House stripped out those unrelated measures and passed a “clean” Voter ID bill that deals with one issue and one issue only: Requiring a voter to prove his or her identity with a state-issued picture identification. Period.

Next week, the Senate needs to vote to “concur” with the bill so it can go to Governor Haley for her signature. I urge you to contact your Senator and tell him you want him to “concur” with the House bill.

Voter ID is about securing our elections, pure and simple. It is a major plank in the South Carolina Republican Party platform, and Chairman Karen Floyd came out this week in support of the House version of the 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. 

My House Republican colleagues believe that “if you can fly with it, you can vote with it.” I believe 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, 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. Georgia’s Voter ID legislation has been upheld as legal by the Obama Justice Department. We are on firm legal ground that showing a picture ID is not an undue burden on voting.

The new, clean, House bill removes potential barriers some people may have to acquiring a drivers’ license. The House abolished the fee for anybody who can’t afford an identification card. We also streamlined a process to acquire a birth certificate – of note for people who might have a birth recorded in a family bible.

It is imperative that the Senate approve this bill and “concur” with the House version.