Senate wasting time on voter ID

While we all wait for the Senate to act on the Sanford vetoes overridden by the House (an override doesn’t stick unless both chambers do it), Mike Fitts reports that they are busy squabbling over a partisan litmus-test issue:

With dozens of vetoes overturned by the House headed to the Senate for consideration, that legislative body was entangled this morning in a Democrat-led filibuster over voter I.D. legislation. Democrats fear the bill would disenfranchise thousands of people, especially the poor, who often do not have drivers’ licenses or easy access to their birth certificates.

Yeah, I know that many people of goodwill on both sides — people I respect — think there is a huge principle involved here, and that the consequences of their losing the fight would be dire. But I remain unpersuaded.

As I’ve written in the past, including one of my very last columns at the paper, I am unpersuaded by both sides. The GOP claims they must stop widespread voter fraud. The Dems claim they are trying to prevent wholesale disenfranchisement. I frankly think any fraud that actually occurs, or people who would even be inconvenienced by voter ID, are few and far between, and not enough to determine the outcome of elections.

But you say, isn’t ONE case of voter fraud an outrage? Isn’t a single person denied the right to vote a sin against democracy?

Look, call me heartless or apathetic, but I take the 30,000-foot view on this. I’m looking at the forest. To me, the staggering numbers of people who vote with NO idea who they are voting for or why is a MUCH greater threat  to democracy than these rare phenomena the two parties are obsessing over.

Doubt me? Well, then, I have two words for you: Alvin Greene.

53 thoughts on “Senate wasting time on voter ID

  1. Doug Ross

    I’d like to see some statistics on the number of adults who do not have an id who also vote.

    How is it possible to manage in society today WITHOUT an id?

    I’d hate to have to be on the side of arguing that showing an id is a barrier to casting a vote.

  2. Brad

    So would I, Doug. Of course, I’d hate just as much to be trying to argue that we have a real problem with voter fraud caused by people not having photo IDs.

    I’m not convinced that there is a problem necessitating such IDs. But if Republicans are just so obsessed on having them, I say let them — I’m just as unconvinced that it would be an unsupportable burden.

  3. Kathryn Fenner

    Doug–plenty of people “manage in society” without an ID–just at a far lower level of sophistication than you or I do. They have a right to vote.

    Imagine you don’t have a car. How are you going to get out to Shop Road to get a state-issued ID? If you don’t have a car, you are probably not in a position to afford a passport or have need for one. You don’t have a bank account, and you cash your paycheck at the grocery store you always go to, or some other place where everybody knows who you are. There’s a whole ‘nother world out there.

  4. Michael P.

    The question posed many times, “How do you function in today’s society without a photo ID?”

  5. Bart

    When I write a check, ID required.

    When I transact a loan, ID required.

    When I pick up some prescriptions, ID required.

    When I applied for a home loan, ID required.

    When I renewed my drivers license, ID required.

    When I transact business with any government agency, ID required.

    Almost everything we do when proof of who we are is required, an ID of some sort is required.

    So, if voting is one of the most precious rights we have, why is it such an issue to produce an ID to prove you are who you say you are?

    Is it racist to expect everyone who registers to vote or vote to have an ID? When you register, are you not given a registration card? Is an ID required when you register? In my case, it most definitely was a requirement. Did enforcement of the requirement make the African-American lady who registered me a racist?

    Is it an equivalent to being branded with the “mark of the beast” to ask for an ID when voting?

    Our friends south of the border have enacted a law, requiring every citizen to have an ID card with embedded identification information on their person or available when requested from cradle to grave. It is already in process as we read this blog. Why is it such an issue in this country?

    Have we become a society where we don’t hold everyone to the same standards of responsibility, unless there is a legitimate medical, physical, or mental condition affecting an individual?

    No doubt, some abuses have taken place. No doubt, some will try to use the requirement to prevent some people from voting.

    If this right is so ardently protected or can be abused, then shouldn’t some responsibility be placed on each individual who exercises it?

    Just asking.

  6. Kathryn Fenner

    You function in today’s society without a photo ID by not driving or traveling internationally. You don’t have a bank account–lots of our fellow South Carolinians do not have bank accounts. You use cash.
    In all likelihood, you are very poor, but some people just prefer to live off the grid.

  7. Michael P.

    Is Shop Road the only DMV where you can get a state issued ID? How do you cash a check someone gives you? How do you use a Welfare Card (in place of checks)?

    If I didn’t have a car and needed to get an ID card on Shop Rd, how would I do it? I don’t know… walk, take the bus, call a cab, catch a ride from a friend, hitch-hike, jump in the river and float down stream…

  8. Kathryn Fenner

    How do I say this effectively without giving offense? We are so used to being middle class, we don’t realize how many things we do that poor people do not.

    Poor people do not get home loans. They do not write checks because they do not have bank accounts. They do not receive checks, other than commercial ones they cash at stores that know them, because they don’t know people with bank accounts. The kind of business they transact with government, like DSS and WIC, they have that agency’s ID, and not necessarily a photo DMV type one. They deal with people who know them already–they have no credit, so what alternative do they have? If you deal with people who know you, you don’t need an ID.

    Requiring IDs seems racist to a lot of people both because of the history in this state of denying blacks their right to vote (y’all see that Nikki Haley video on the previous post? Guys like those guys)
    and because blacks are disproportionately in the kind of deep poverty that allows you to live without an ID.

    Maybe we don’t want people that poor, that off-the-grid to vote, but it is their right, just as it’s Alvin Greene’s right to be a Democratic candidate if he pays the filing fee and wins the primary.

  9. Kathryn Fenner

    Some people work long hours at low pay and then have child care issues or health issues to deal with. They don’t know a lot of people who have cars and time and gas money to drive them to the DMV, which may not be open when they are off work. They don’t have time to hitch-hike, and I don’t know if the bus goes out there, but if it does, it takes a long time.

    These people have the right to vote.
    Why does Big Brother need them to have an ID?

  10. martin

    Kathryn, where do you get your facts/assumptions? Yeah, there is a whole other world out there, but I doubt you have much first hand knowledge of it.

    I worked in human services from 1973 – 2007. People have driver’s licenses or IDs and have gotten them for a variety of reasons over the years of their lives. Sometimes at the suggestion and with the help of various agencies they come in contact with.

    Since HIPAA, I don’t know of anyone who has not had to show a picture ID at a doctor’s office. May be some, I just don’t know ’em.
    Schools that have drivers ed have to tell the kids to get permits.

    The poor OLD 80 year olds who are supposedly going to be disenfranchised by this were 60 in 1990, 40 in 1970, 30 in 1960. Most people, no matter how poor manage to have access to a car to get to work at some point in their lives and they usually have a license. Most of Today’s 80 year olds have a SCDL and the rest have a picture ID.

    Many who knee-jerk oppose yet another proposal from a right wing list that appears to float around the country’s legislatures, are 45-60 years old and simply not stopping to think that their 80 year old granny (in 1960) probably didn’t have much reason to have a driver’s license (my granddaddy never did, he used a mule and wagon to get to town into the ’60s), but people coming to maturity in the 1950s and 1960s more than likely do.

    When all the ACORN stuff was going on, I read the most common type of voter fraud is the use of absentee voting in municipal elections. So maybe that’s what we need to put an end to that instead of wasting our time on all this.

  11. Michael P.

    I didn’t realize when I received my driver’s license at the age of 15 that I took a leap in my level of sophistication. Decades later, I suddenly feel the need to run out and buy an ascot.

  12. Brad

    I’m probably going to upset Kathryn here, and all my Democratic friends, but…

    Let’s set aside race. Let’s set aside class. Is it really and truly in the best interests of the commonweal for people who are THAT disengaged from the commonalities of public life to be choosing our leaders?

    I just heard a collective gasp. Here, breath into this paper bag, and hear me out…

    The other day, I was explaining to Doug why property owners pay taxes on their property, and why those with more valuable property pay more. It is because they are presumed to have a greater stake in the proper running of the government. Not that they are wiser, or better, but simply that they are palpably, materially INVOLVED in, and invested in, the overall good of the community.

    OK, somewhere around the time of that abomination Andrew Jackson, we decided that was undemocratic. Or rather, TOO undemocratic, since from the time that John Quincy’s daddy first led us to independence it had been assumed that we were better off as a republic, meaning in the Madisonian sense a representative democracy, than with pure democracy. Sensible people still assume that.

    So, if someone is the modern urban or rural equivalent of a mountain man — either through his or her own choice or because of circumstances — totally disengaged from the everyday official interactions and transactions that most of us take for granted… is that person likely enough to be sufficiently plugged in to make an informed choice about who should lead this whole shebang?

    I mean, the more democratic we get, the more ABSOLUTELY insistent we are that everyone find it not only possible, but convenient, to vote, do we not greatly increase the chances of coming up with more Alvin Greenes?

    Alvin Greene IS what you get when the voters are not plugged in or involved or engaged, but vote anyway. NO ONE other than Vic Rawl and perhaps his immediate family paid ANY attention to that “race.” (And apparently, he didn’t pay it much mind himself.) We were all as disengaged from the question of who should be the sacrificial lamb to go up against Jim DeMint as people who have no ID, no bank accounts, no cell phones, etc., are from the modern economy and common public life.

    Just, you know… submitted for your approval. Or disapproval, as the case may be.

  13. Brad

    To add to that — it disturbs me that people whose understanding of the way government and the economy and complex societal interactions work is as unsophisticated as the Tea Partiers will have a huge impact on the next election. That is REALLY disturbing to me. It’s the source of that depression I felt at the Palin/Haley rally. I was convinced that the people cheering those absurd, simplistic populist nostrums being offered from the podium would NEVER get why all of is was so bogus and inadequate. They would not only not get it, but would resent and strenuously resist any attempt to explain it to them.

    And yet those folks were, I’d be willing to bet a lot of money, better educated, better informed and more INVOLVED in society’s interactions than the people who, essentially, live as mountain men, or economic hermits if you will, among us.

    So… why is it a bad thing that they might have to make a gesture to get a LITTLE more engaged in modern life before undertaking such a profound responsibility as voting? Getting a picture ID is a very small thing to ask.

    So does this mean I agree with the Republicans? No. If I were a Republican and saw how adamant the Democrats were against the idea, I’d shrug and move on, because I simply don’t see the NEED for the voter ID. But similarly, if I were a Democrat, seeing how irrationally much the Republicans want it, I’d shrug and say let them.

    In other words, one thing I definitely would NOT do is participate in this wasteful showdown.

  14. Susan G.

    Two common misconceptions about the very poor — they don’t have ids, and they don’t have access to transportation. I spend a fair amount of time among very poor people, and while their access to transportation isn’t timely (getting to a job every day can be tough), they do manage to get places — a lot of times folks who have cars will charge a small amount to take their friends/neighbors places. Or church folks take them to the grocery store and such. Also, they pretty much all have ids — I don’t know anyone who doesn’t, and I know numerous “poor old black ladies”.
    So, while my experience is limited to folks around Columbia & Greenville, at least in those areas, I don’t think this would actually be a problem. (Pointless, really, and annoying, but not an actual impediment to voting).

  15. Doug Ross

    How do you prove you are eligible to vote in a precinct without some way to identify you reside there?

    I remain unconvinced that there are many people who a) don’t have an id card or the means to get one and b) vote.

    Here’s a deal for you – give me the names of five people in Columbia in that situation and I will drive them to Shop Road to get an ID and pay for it. All I would ask is that they prove that they have voted in the past.

  16. Doug Ross

    And how do you get to the polling place if you don’t have the means to make it to Shop Road?

    I’m not trying to be difficult but I’d really like to see a real world example of someone who is unable to get an id card and has voted. I think they might be like Sasquatch – only a figment of a liberals imagination.

  17. Michael P.

    So a free photo ID is the only free thing they refuse to get? DMVs are open six days a week. Out of 312 days in a year, they can not find a couple hours within a 2 year voting cycle to go down and pick one up?

  18. bud

    Seriously, this is enough to make my blood boil. Anyone that endorsed George W. Bush in 2004 HAS ABSOLUTELY NO DAMN RIGHT to tell anyone they don’t have a right to vote. Worst damn president in American hisory. Brad, you need to back off this elitist crap. Kathyrn is absolutely correct on this. There is a whole nother world out there that survives without government IDs. And don’t even get me started on why it really isn’t that big a deal to disenfranchise a few people. Probably got us W in the first place given the closeness of the Florida vote in 2000. The GOP needs to back off this patently racist attempt to disenfranchise voters. And elitists who supported the likes of W, Sanford and Palin need to shut the hell up about folks who in their “informed” opinion are too stupid to vote.

  19. bud

    I would suggest life experience has a far greater effect on how one votes than education. Take Brad for instance compared to “bud”. His life experience is largely based on his upbringing as a military brat. Through years of indoctrination in that culture his world view is based on America’s right to use military force to solve problems in various parts of the world. That thinking gave us the disaster of the Bush years and in spite of all evidence to the contrary Brad, in his psuedo thoughtful analysis manage to endorse W in 2 elections.

    My world view on the other was quite different. My father, a WW II veteran and Citadel graduate, viewed the Vietnam war with horror and let my brother and I know, in the most strident of terms, just how unjust the whole war was. While my dad and I disagreed on many things as I became a young man and eventually a father in my own right, his opposition to the Vietnam war resonated throughout my life.

    The Iraq war is clearly wrong. The president clearly lied us into it. You may say my life history is why I view that situation as such. You may be right. But to suggest, as Brad does, that folks cannot make good decisions about political candidates because they are not perfectly informed is a bit overstated. I would suggest you can make appalling decisions even if you are extremely well informed.

    Heck I was pretty well informed in 2000. Or at least I thought I was, yet I blew that one by voting for Ralph Nader. Worst vote I ever made.

  20. Kathryn Fenner

    @Martin–I was a Guardian ad Litem for many years….

    @Doug–I can easily walk to my polling place–in heels–heck, my dad, who uses a cane walked there (it’s the Senior Center). Even I cannot walk to Shop Road.

  21. Michael P.

    Kathryn – Shop Road is not the only place to get a photo ID. You can get a photo ID at most DMV locations around Columbia. Do buses run near your home? You can make excuses all day, but if you really wanted a photo ID I bet you’d figure out a way to get to a DMV location.

  22. Brad

    We love Bud, but he is rather quick to anger. I always regret raising his blood pressure.

    I don’t quite know what to say to Bud’s assertion that the majority of people who voted in the 2004 presidential election should shut up. So we’ll leave that now.

    Let me just humbly point a few things out.

    First, no one said anyone doesn’t have a RIGHT to vote. That’s a straw man designed to justify Bud’s anger. What we’re discussing here is how convenient it needs to be to vote. And I was merely suggesting that before we shape our laws or reject new laws on the basis of the idea that it MIGHT inconvenience an extremely rare (and some of you were truly painting a picture of a rara avis, a modern-day mountain man ironically among us), particularly disengaged individual, we should consider whether we need to go to such gyrations to make sure that someone THAT disengaged finds it convenient to vote.

    Second, ultimately, that’s the issue: Convenience. My whole career as an editorialist, I had my doubts about the usual pious editorial sentiment of urging everyone to get out and vote. Sure, a reminder that today is election day, although even there you’re encouraging the apathetic and clueless to a slightly disturbing degree. But to try to persuade someone who is NOT inclined to vote to do so? I always wondered about that. Sure, this person may be a font of wisdom and merely suffering from a form of ennui that has caused him to be discouraged about voting. Understandable. But it seems to me that a person not interested in voting is highly likely not to be interested in public affairs at all. And do we really need MORE uninformed, careless voting. Again, I refer you to the curious case of Alvin Greene.

    Bud reacts as the overwhelming majority of people do in our society, framing the issue in terms of RIGHTS. With my communitarian leanings, that’s not the area you will find me tilling and toiling over. For me, the rights in this case are assumed. I tend to think of voting as a responsibility more than a right. Besides, what we’re discussing here is how far it is advisable for society to go in making it EASY and CONVENIENT to vote — to exercise the right that Bud believes (erroneously, to my mind) is endangered, and the responsibility that I believe we should all go to the personal inconvenience of meeting. That’s what concerns me.

    Is everyone following me?

    Finally, Bud leaps to an erroneous conclusion in assuming that a military (actually, in my case, naval) upbringing causes one to be what he would regard as militaristic. Not so’s you’d notice, really. And I suspect that I’ve been exposed to more military brats than Bud has. We’re a pretty diverse bunch.

    Also, I think there’s a good bit of documentation out there that among people my age, there was a certain trend to move AWAY from the values of one’s parents. It didn’t take on me in the way it did with lots of people, but we were all caught up in that. In fact, most opponents of the Vietnam war were not like Bud, being encouraged in that opposition by their fathers. Like Bud, we all have things that make us special and unique, and earn us the right not to be pigeonholed.

    Burl and others may want to weigh in on the military brat question.

    Seems like there was another point I was going to make, but it escapes me now.

  23. Wally Altman

    Let me try a different tack, Brad.

    If this were simply about addressing a real problem with vote fraud, I’d be right there with you. But it’s not. Ask yourself this question: WHY do Democrats oppose a voter ID law, and why do Republicans support it? The obvious answer is that, regardless of the undeniable fact that anyone who needs a photo ID can probably get one, it will inevitably have a negative effect on the turnout of poor voters, who are more likely to vote Democratic.

    Suppose for the sake of argument that I cede Brad’s point and agree that anyone unwilling to make the time to get a photo ID shouldn’t be voting. This is STILL a fight worth having, because once a voter ID bill becomes law, it won’t be long before Republicans come up with another plan to suppress turnout of poor minority voters. Maybe it’ll be new restrictions on volunteers getting people registered to vote or providing transportation to the polls. Maybe it’ll be a reduction in the number of polling locations “to save money”. One thing’s for sure: there’s no shortage of possibilities.

    THAT’s what this is really about, Brad. With what you’ve seen of the new reality of the GOP, I have a hard time believing this is too much for you to accept. It sounds like the argument of a partisan Democrat because that’s exactly what it is, but that doesn’t make it untrue.

  24. Brad

    Wally, two points: As I have explained over and over, I regard the Republican argument as being equally unpersuasive as the Democratic one. I am just as unpersuaded that voter ID is needed as I am that it would have dire results. What offends me is the time spent arguing about it.

    Secondly, the point YOU raise gives me MORE reason to see this as a waste of time. Indeed, for the parties it IS about whether more Democrats than Republicans will vote. And I would not give two cents for either result. I am indifferent to the political fortunes of the parties. The fact that, for these partisans, that’s what it’s all about makes the argument a LESS seemly object for debate, rather than redeeming it.

  25. Susan G.

    Personally, I’m even more cynical on this one than you all are, I think. I think this is simply about getting points up on each team’s scoreboard. Neither side can really think that passing or not passing this legislation will make a rat’s ass of difference in the outcome of actual elections. Each side just wants to be the one who gets to yell “touchdown!” and dance in the endzone.

  26. j

    Kathryn and Bud,

    Thanks for your insightful and experienced comments. My 88-year-old mother is wheelchair bound by a mild stoke 13 years ago. She has no driver’s license nor ID but remains intensely interested in politics and who is running for office.

    I grew up in Columbia many years ago and have lived in a rural county for four decades. There are many individuals who don’t have govt. issued IDs. If you’re a white male, are middle class economically and have lived in an urban area for most of your life, you probably know very few, if any, individuals who don’t have IDs. I’ve been in elective office for more than 25 years and Brad, it IS a racial thing. You can’t overlook the implication even if you’re at 30,000 feet and can only see the forest. The truth will come out on Alvin Greene and his filing fee.

  27. bud

    If the two parties were equally unseemly Brad would have a point. But in spite of many shortcomings on the part of the Democrats they are our only real hope for effective, rational governing.

    The GOP will not stop until only registered NRA members, baptized in the Southern Baptist church and who regularly attend Tea Party rallies are allowed to vote. Let’s stop this obvious bit of racial profiling here and now. It’s far from the trivial matter that Brad paints it. Again, all you have to do is look at the Florida POTUS vote in 2000. A small number of voters really does matter.

  28. Kathryn Fenner

    Okay, here’s a different tack: how does one register to vote in the first place? What documentation is required? I have done so most recently 12 years ago, and I have the full compliment of bourgeois paperwork.

  29. j

    Martin, you may want to read the non-partisan GAO report that just came out clearing ACORN of the alleged voter fraud charges and misusing funds.

    If you aren’t familiar with Andrew Breitbart and his minion James E. O’Keefe III (he plead guilty in trespass charges of Sen Mary Landrieu’s office) you might Google them. It may help in your understanding of the video that prompted the investigation.
    When you talk about voter fraud, I’m sure you remember the wholesale dumping of voters in Fla and OH by their Sects of State. It got Bush elected and re-elected.

  30. Wally Altman

    Sorry Brad, I didn’t intend to suggest you thought voter fraud was an actual issue here.

    You say that neither side has a leg to stand on here. But in a case where a new law has even a chance of causing a negative impact, shouldn’t a greater burden fall on the party that wants to make a change to the rules to show that such a change is needed? Or does having a majority mean the GOP gets to rewrite the rules of the game to help them keep it?

    Forgive me if I remember incorrectly, but wasn’t there a proposal recently to add an early voting period to the voter ID law? To my view, that sort of compromise ought to be acceptable to anyone who’s truly concerned about voter fraud.

    Of course, if it’s that version of the bill that the Democrats are filibustering, I’d have to concede they’re a bunch of silly geese.

  31. Greg Jones

    You people are killing me.
    I live in a county where for years many local races were determined by how many dead people voted (and not always by absentee ballot). And though I am not the most famous peson in town, I can usually vote without I.D. or voter registration card…they just find me on the list.
    Is it too much of an impostion to ask someone to get a free ID so they can continue to have the right to vote?
    This is akin to the argument that’s being made about the Arizona law. What’s better; a few inconvenienced American citizens (or legal aliens) or wiping out the problem of illegal aliens?
    On a final note; do any of the German government buildings still fly the Nazi flag?
    Just asking.

  32. Brad

    No, they do NOT, Greg. The Germans decided to draw a line, to say going forward, “We are not Nazis.”

    Unfortunately, South Carolina has not yet decided to declare to the world, “We are not Confederates.”

    And therein lies the problem.

  33. Burl Burlingame

    Over here, the state provides a “state” ID at nominal cost to those who need them. Includes picture. It comes in particular use to teenagers and others who are starting out. Some establishments and airlines require TWO forms of picture ID. How many of us have an official picture ID in addition to the drivers license?

  34. Kathryn Fenner

    @Burl– We have lousy transportation and some very poor and possibly inform people here. Maybe we need an ID-mobile….

    and even a nominal cost is offensive when it comes to the right to vote. The same people who see no problem in inflicting a nominal cost on potential voters squawk loudly when a nominal additional tax on themselves might save jobs….

  35. j

    Doug, yes, she does vote by absentee ballot that is mailed to her as she is physically disable. Thanks for asking.

  36. Kathryn Fenner

    Well, if you had the capability for people to remove their own comments (and possibly edit them), like a grown-up blog…..

  37. Brad

    So, what? You want to rob me of the joy of making FUN of the typos?

    Hey, I’m an editor. What other joy do I get out of life?

  38. Burl Burlingame

    Actually, Brad should be able to edit comments to fix typos.

    A few posts above, I was being facetious about the “right” to vote a century ago. But seriously, ID cards are a relatively modern invention.

  39. Burl Burlingame

    Oh yeah, military brats (or “navy juniors,” as the blue-water guys claim).

    They cannot be ghettoed. Some grow up to be crazy-conservative, others are wacky-liberal, most are all points in-between.

    If i had to generalize though, I’d say virtually all of them have a REALISTIC view of the military, what it can and cannot do, and that it’s not just a job, it’s a service to our nation.

    For most of us, the military life is an extended family, and it’s pretty wrenching when we no longer have PX/BX privileges, because it feels like a personal rejection.

    Our people in uniform have the hardest job in the world. I pretty much tolerated Bush until he started screwing the average soldier on the home front while he placed him in harm’s way overseas. It felt … dishonorable.

  40. Pat

    I took my 89 year old mother to get a SC ID. It was a pain but she got it. She needed an original birth certificate – that was the hard part – well, that and getting her in and out of the car. I took her to a small DMV where she didn’t have to wait. Medical facilities ask for it and she still writes checks and banks and retail ask for it. An ID mobile sounds good.

  41. Kathryn Fenner

    My Massachusetts, no, *Cape Cod* Liberal husband loves his Fort Gordon students. Military people are generally pretty awesome, the Great Santini notwithstanding. It’s military *action* that gives a lot of us pause.

  42. Greg

    Politics, left & right, right and wrong, and somewhere in between common sense gets thrown to the curb. You just have to love it.

    Anyone ever heard the old saying “give a man a fish, feed him for a day, teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.”

    There is a faction of our society that just wants to feed people for a day by letting them be lazy and live off of the gov’t. Who does that help really? Only the lazy, AND those who wish to ignore they really exist.

    I have knocked doors in every housing project in Columbia, SC (long before they started tearing them down) except for one, and it was the most dangerous.

    We were helping people get trained for jobs. It was an awesome adventure. I met all kinds of people, some who wanted to get ahead, and some who were very happy to let everyone else pay them to remain poor. (Guess what? They ALL had ID’s)

    This much I can tell you…if a person wants to do something, they will. Those who want to vote will provide ID to register to vote, but we want to excuse them from providing ID to prove they are who they say they are when they actually vote. This smells of corruption on every level. There must be some reason for requiring it on the front side and then giving them an excuse not to when it is important. So what is that reason? Anyone care to expand on that please?

    If they had to produce ID to have a TV, you can bet they would. The vast majority of those I met could not afford a TV, yet they had one, and many of them had one much nicer than mine. It just goes to prove my point, people tend to do what they want to do.

    If they want to vote, they will find a way, but there are those who want to offer them every excuse before they even think of making their own excuse.

    When will we ever learn, and stop giving people fish, and teaching them to fish instead? The poor and lazy are often poor and lazy because WE provide them a way to be poor and lazy. A grave was dug many years ago, and common sense was buried.

    And now…we require ID to register to vote, then excuse that same requirement when it comes tme to vote. Yeah, that makes sense. Are we really that stupid? Or that corrupt?

  43. scout

    I don’t know how I missed this conversation previously. But I would just add that perhaps it is not just the poor in general but specifically the rural poor who will have the most trouble with this requirement. Most of the observations from people here who have dealt with poor people who they say they do have IDs and anything else they want, seem to be urban poor. I work in a rural public school where over 70% qualify for free/reduced lunch. Rural poverty is truly a whole other world and we have a lot of it in SC. Do they have a DMV in every little town in SC….don’t think so. Do they have a polling place in every little town – most likely. So it’s probably easier for the rural poor to walk or get a ride to someplace in their neighborhood (i.e. the polls), vs. the most likely 20 or 30 miles to the town where the DMV office is. The rural elderly poor would have a much greater chance of having been born at home rather than in a hospital, making it much more of a challenge for them to have a birth certificate, which they will need to get this free ID. I don’t have much call to ask the parents of my student’s for ID, so I can’t speak directly to that, but the transportation issue is very real. It can be very hard to get parents in for meetings due to lack of transportation, among other things.

    Brad, I take your point. I agree that voting is a responsibility and I get angry when people don’t take it seriously. I get angry that people would vote in a race if they knew neither candidate. I don’t want to enable any more of the Alvin Green phenomenon voters.

    But it also would make me very angry if a rural poor voter who does care and is engaged as is possible for them personally to be given their circumstances and resources is prevented from voting by this requirement. And I think that is much more of a possibility in a rural setting than in the city.

  44. Doug Ross


    What if the bill included funding to transport anyone who did not have the means to get to DMV? and made the id free?

    I’d really like to see an estimate of the number of people who don’t have id’s and have no way whatsoever in the course of a year to make it to a DMV one time AND who currently vote.

    I still think its a liberal urban (rural?) legend.

  45. scout


    I would really be interested in those statistics too. It may be a legend and I’d like to know and I’d totally change my position if that turned out to be the case. The point I was trying to make is just that the rural poor really do face hardships that are otherwise hard to imagine unless you’ve been there and seen it – and it is conceivable to me that this could be a problem for some.

    As far as funding transportation to get the IDs….I would rather the state save the money for transporting or making the IDs at all by not requiring them unless some irrefutable evidence is provided that voter fraud is really happening because of lack of ID. I’m not convinced.

    In a perfect world, it would be great if we all had IDs – but if there is a chance it’s a hardship and may curtail someone’s chance to vote – combined with it’s gonna cost a million dollars – combined with there is no clear evidence this is a problem…..let’s save our money.

    Or what if they did something like starting now, when you register to vote, you get an ID made if you don’t already have one. Set the requirement to have an ID several years out and encourage churches and civic groups to help people with the logistics of getting the ID. I don’t know what they can do about the potential birth certificate problem but it could be found out and possibly worked through. If there really is a good faith effort to assess if this is truly a hardship and to not disenfranchise people, and if it can be done for not a billion thousand dollars, then I’m for it. Otherwise, they should prove that it is a problem before changing it.

  46. Kathryn Fenner

    @Doug– That’s a workable fix, to me. Now, you still have to overcome the Voting Right Act legacy, but maybe if we stopped flying the Confederate flag, it would go a long way to showing our good faith.

  47. Pat

    I have to make a few comments here.
    1. To get Social Security benefits, one has to prove their birth. So if the elderly are receiving their benefits, they already have some documentation of their birth. (My mother had misplaced hers, and she had moved to my home from another state.)
    2. As long as the ID is free, there is no reason not to get one.
    3. A SC ID doesn’t have to be solely connected to the DMV. To make it easier, when one registers to vote, a SC ID could be made available at the same location. (or mobile as Kathryn had mentioned.)
    4. Some of the recent past history that has disturbed me is that I never thought our own presidential elections could be called in to question. This was at a time when Jimmy Carter is traveling all over the world to be a poll observer. We have just come through some precarious times. It is reasonable to me to verify our own electorate, while at the same time making it as convenient as possible and free so as not to disenfranchise anyone based on money. This would include not only a free ID but also a free copy of any document required to establish the ID. As I pointed out earlier, the documentation is already required to obtain Social Security benefits. I really believe this to be necessary to maintain the legitimacy of our government.
    And I agree with Kathryn, to stop flying the Confederate flag would go a long way to show good faith. And there doesn’t need to be any prerequisites to do so.
    I can respect the sincere historian about the Confederate flag – and it is history, but truly, SC already has a great flag that has a much longer and greater history and is more inclusive and representative of the uniqueness of who South Carolinians are.

  48. scout

    Bart, you asked, “When you register, are you not given a registration card? Is an ID required when you register? In my case, it most definitely was a requirement.”

    Actually photo ID is not required when you register – proof of residence is the main issue, you can use a photo ID for that if you have one, but other things are accepted too:
    # A current utility bill
    # Bank statement
    # Government check
    # Paycheck
    # Government document – excluding your voter registration card

    That’s from the lexington county website:

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