One step closer to nothing of consequence

This message came in this morning from Karen Floyd, headlined, “One Step Closer to Securing Our Elections.” Here’s the text:

Dear Brad Warthen
As many of you are aware, passing Voter ID legislation is one of the top goals we have for this busy year. Republicans in both the House and Senate are determined to protect our state’s elections process by requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot. Yesterday, we got one step closer to achieving this important goal.
The Senate Judiciary Committee passed Voter ID legislation, which means that the next step is for the bill to be presented on the senate floor. While we prefer the House version of the bill, we are happy that the Senate is working hard on this crucial issue.
We would like to thank Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Glenn McConnell for pressing this bill passed committee, as well as acknowledge Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler for making this bill a top priority. Also, our special thanks goes out to Senator Chip Campsen, who sponsored the bill and is working tirelessly to see this matter through until the end.
Please click here now to visit the Senate’s Facebook page and leave a comment on how important it is for Voter ID to become law this year! Also, please visit Senator Harvey Peeler’s and Senator Glenn McConnell’s Facebook page if you would like to leave them a comment as well.
Karen Floyd
SCGOP Chairman

As I’ve said before, whether we have Voter ID is neither here nor there. The Republicans INSIST that representative democracy as we know and cherish it will cease to be if we don’t have it, on account of all this supposed fraud going on everywhere. The Democrats INSIST that representative democracy as we know and cherish it will cease to be if we do have it, because all sorts of already marginalized people will be disenfranchised (or something else really bad — I haven’t gotten a release from the Dems in this particular cycle, so I’m just going by memory here).

Whereas to me, it’s just another arm-wrestling match between parties to see which one can have its way. As with so many other issues. I just don’t think either the threat of fraud or the harm to the disadvantaged looms large enough or convincingly enough to be worth all the partisan hubbub. Both sides have a point, to the extent that they cancel each other out — the slight threats of fraud and disenfranchisement are of roughly equal size and believability. It most certainly is not a clear-cut case of one or the other, but a mutually-cancelling wash.

As I wrote before:

For my part, I think the Republicans’ assertion that this legislation is needed and the Democrats’ assertion that it will lead to dire consequences are both misplaced. Here’s a column I wrote on the subject awhile back. The best thing, of course, would be if our lawmakers didn’t waste a single second on this issue that ultimately is about the fact that Republicans don’t want certain people who are likely to vote Democratic to vote, and Democrats want them to for the equal and opposite reason.

Yeah, I get it. It’s about race and class and perceptions regarding those phenomena, and who cares and who doesn’t, and all those things that the parties posture over. Which means it’s about each of the parties polishing up their reps (since I’m not persuaded of the actual problems they say they’re addressing).

And Democrats are right when they say that when Republicans say, “secure our elections,” they mean “make our elections safe for Republicans.” And Republicans are right when they say that the Democrats are just trying to turn out as many people as possible who are likely to vote Democratic.

So in the end, it makes me tired. A step toward nothing of consequence, except to partisans.

26 thoughts on “One step closer to nothing of consequence

  1. Doug Ross

    Shouldn’t we error on the side of making sure that when a person casts a vote, he is who he says he is?

    We went through this discussion before. Someone will mention a distant relative who has no id, no access to a car, no ability to find a ride to the DMV at any point during the year preceding an election. And for that, we can’t ask people to show an id when they vote? What other transactions with the government can you perform without proving your identity?

    If you’re getting any form of government assistance: Medicare, Social Security, Food Stamps, etc. you must have to prove who you are.

  2. Doug Ross

    These “marginalized” voters also cannot have bank accounts, own any property, put their children in public schools, serve on juries (yeah – how does THAT work? you get called for jury duty but can’t prove who you are?)

    And if we get single payer healthcare, won’t everyone have to have some type of government id to get it???

  3. Mark Stewart

    I had a paper social security card. I laundered it and then lost it when I was 18. Luckily, I memorized the number – but then I guess I could have just made one up.

    I have never worried about it since, and no one has ever asked for it. So I get through life just fine. And so does the “system”.

    I agree, this is such a non-issue. Doesn’t the Judicial Committee have something meatier to focus on – like replacing the Budget & Control Board with a Governor-controlled department of administration?

  4. jfx

    Photo IDs are easily faked. If they really want to “secure our elections”, they should ask for a DNA sample, and do onsite forensic verification.

    And Lexington County Republicans who want to walk into the booth and push one button should be required to donate a pint of blood.

  5. Kathy

    I don’t have a problem with requiring a photo ID in order to vote. Don’t people on Medicare have photo IDs? When my grandmother was 97 (a couple of years ago), one of her doctors required us to get her a photo ID because her driver’s license had expired. I thought it must be a Medicare requirement. If not, I wonder why we had to do that.

    I listened to some of the debate that the House had concerning the Voter ID bill. Doesn’t the bill do away with in-person absentee voting? I haven’t been keeping up (been working), and I couldn’t find much on the internet. However, I know the House members were discussing in-person absentee voting—in the sense of getting rid of it. Also, it seemed to me that the House version contained a change that would require disabled people to request the application for an absentee ballot either by mail or in person. That’s impossible for some people. Some of the legislators were talking like a family member would not be able to request the application for a relative. My mother lived for 28 years as a totally paralyzed person; she could only lift her head a couple of inches off the pillow. There was absolutely nothing wrong with my mother’s mind. Do they really expect someone in that condition to be able to request an application in person or by mail?

    Hopefully, I didn’t understand what I heard our legislators saying. Brad, would you please let us know what’s going on. Please tell us about other specifics in the versions of the bill in addition to the photo ID requirement. Thank you.

  6. Kathy

    When the legislators were discussing the provision about disabled people, one House member seemed not to understand that a paralyzed person may not be able to send mail by themselves. Another legislator asked him, “Have you ever been around any disabled people?”

    Why the reluctance to allow people to continue to vote absentee in person? I realize our voting machines should have better documentation that would allow for an actual recount, but paper ballots certainly aren’t “fraud proof.”

    County voter officials have indicated that long lines on election day are a hindrance to voters. Instead of establishing more polling places and/or purchasing better electronic voting machines, our legislators seem to be intent on making it more difficult for people to vote.

    It seems to me there’s a fine line between insuring free and fair elections and establishing unnecessary barriers to voting.

  7. SusanG

    I don’t have any problem with it either, one way or the other — but I agree with Brad — it’s a waste of time when there are much more pressing issues.

    So I’m mostly annoyed that they would identify it as “one of the top goals we have for this busy year”.

    Says to me it’s still just about them first, and the citizen only secondarily.

  8. martin

    Republicans have been pushing this across the country, have they not?

    I think it is a ploy to make Democrats who get so exercised about this look like they condone or encourage voter fraud – as many people post, “if you aren’t trying to cheat, why should you care?”

    It’s a new kind of “dirty trick” and Democrats have fallen hook, line & sinker. I have no doubt Karl Rove is chortling somewhere for having so successfully pushed the buttons of so many people.

    Kathy, HIPPA, about the confidentiality of medical records, was implemented about 8 years ago. Since then I and everyone I know (and I am not Medicare) have had to show and allow to be copied picture ID the first time I see a new MD, dentist, whatever.

    Burl, I vote in a majority Democrat, majority black district right here in South Carolina’s Corridor of Shame and have had to show my picture ID since I started voting almost 40 years ago.

    I am proud to say I cast my first vote for George McGovern, one of the most honorable men to ever hold political office. He qualifies for that overused, and hardly ever accurate term, public servant.

  9. Doug Ross


    Weren’t you basically non-plussed about the TSA security procedures you had to go through? No big deal, right? I travel twice a week on planes and show my id at Columbia airport when I check a bag, when I pass thru security, and when I pick up my rental car. Three times in four hours every Sunday night. This is in addition to taking off my shoes, taking off my belt, pulling out my little plastic bag with my three ounce liquids… and occasionally experiencing a patdown.

    So what’s the big deal about flashing your id once a year to make sure you are the person casting a ballot? How can you be for TSA security and have no cares about voter id?

  10. Doug Ross

    (Wishing you allowed editing comments)..

    and care to bet that there were more fraudulent votes in the last election than there have been security breaches found in a year at Columbia airport?

  11. Kathy

    I would really like to know about the attempt to stop in-person absentee voting as well as the effort to make it more difficult for the disabled to vote absentee.

    This isn’t really important now, but the doctor who required the current photo ID for my grandmother was a doctor she had seen for decades. Her driver’s license had been out-of-date for a short time. Maybe it was HIPPA instead of Medicare. It was very irritating because I could barely get Grandmama in and out of my house to take her to her doctor visits.

  12. Sammy Clemens

    Brad, you seem to dismiss any debate between parties as posturing. Often you are right but often you are not. In this instance I believe the dems have a more substantive position.

    The whole ACORN “crisis” involved voter REGISTRATION fraud and not voting fraud. The is little evidence of any wide spread voting fraud in general which makes the GOP position little more than Chicken Little meets democratic process. Think about it, for voting fraud on an individual basis like Floyd cites to be effective hundreds if not thousands of individual acts of fraud are needed.

    Is this the same Floyd who couldn’t win state office with an R next to her name when even Bauer could win?

  13. Kathy

    It appears that the photo ID requirement at the doctor’s office was probably due to the FTC’s Red Flag Alerts to prevent identity theft, not HIPAA requirements. Evidently, if you go to a doctor now, you must have a photo ID as per Uncle Sam. I guess that seriously dilutes the argument about it being a burden for some people to get a photo ID.

  14. Brad

    That’s just it, Doug — I don’t think it’s a big deal. Require photo IDs or don’t. No huge problem either way. Not worth the fuss the parties make. They have this fight in order to have the fight. Oh, I think they convince themselves, in the throes of ideology and sincere desire for partisan advantage, that it IS a big deal. But they fail to persuade a reasonable observer who does not share their motivations.

  15. Rachel

    I think having to present a photo-ID to vote is a pretty common sense measure to ensure the integrity of the voting process. But, you know, since i am not a partisan, surely this issue shouldn’t really concern me.

    (rolls eyes)

  16. Doug Ross


    “Require photo IDs or don’t. No huge problem either way.”

    Same for TSA?

    This is more of a partisan issue for Democrats than for Republicans in my view. The Republican position of having to identify oneself in order to cast a valid ballot just seems simple when considered in the context of having to the same thing to participate in pretty much every other aspect of life. The Democrats use the issue to sustain the “You can’t trust white people” theme in order to keep their base happy.

  17. bud

    I agree with Sammy. The Democrats have the better argument on this one. Voter disenfranchisement is a bigger problem that voter fraud. I believe it cost Al Gore the election in 2000. There is little evidence that hordes of people are voting who shouldn’t be. Yet there is significant evidence to suggest that voters have been wrongfully turned away. I would point to the 2000 election in Florida where there were numerous reports that black voters were not allowed to vote because they were wrongfully accussed of being felons.

    Having said all that it does seem a proper ID would be a good thing. If someone has a card let them vote. If they don’t make them prove they are who they are and let them vote anyway. We should also allow for early voting. It’s an outdated relic to have a designated election day. Why should people have to wait in long lines with possibly inclement weather to vote? Most importantly we need to have a paper receipt for voters. I’m a bit skeptical of the electronic machines.

  18. Jim Duffy

    I was the SC Republican Party Ballot Security Chairman from 1964 through 1972. I know that there was improper voting during that period of time. People were permitted to vote at a precinct where they worked and then could go to their proper “home” precinct and vote. I know that ballots were passed out in advance. I cannot speak for today, but I can state that there is greater security in having to prove that you are the one that is actually voting and a photo will document the fact. The fear of having a photo ID, when it is required for so many other purposes, should be an indication that there is a fear that it may impact the voting of people not qualified. It is much ado about nothing to oppose the requirement.

  19. Greg

    Will this keep anyone from filling out someone else’s absentee ballots, or keep the dead from voting? Fixing those two issues would have changed some local elections in Hampton County over the years.

  20. Libb

    “Most importantly we need to have a paper receipt for voters. I’m a bit skeptical of the electronic machines.”

    Agree w/ bud wholeheartedly on this point and suggest folks do some research ( is one place to start. Methinks this is a much bigger issue than voter id.

  21. Mark Stewart

    How about this? Let’s focus on the real bane of the voting booth: The straight party button.

    That’s the thing that should go – and I know more Democratic votes come through that button, but it’s really disrespectful to the party believers’ to operate as if they cannot exercise repetitive judgment.

    On the other hand, I don’t believe there are more than a handful of Democrats in my particular precinct and yet every time I vote I overhear some impatient nitwit ask the polling attendant in a couldn’t be bothered tone “just show me were the straight party button is” (Republicans are just as bad is my point). I really, truly want to walk over and yank the cord right out of the back of the voting machine when I hear those words. That button is a slap in the face to every voter, regardless of whether they use it.

  22. Brad

    YES, Mark! You tha Man!

    Folks, I promise, Mark and I are not the same person. It just sounds that way.

    There is no doubt that, bar none, the fact that we ALLOW people to vote straight-party in this country is the biggest single evil in our system, bar none. NONE of these other things that people go on about even come close to doing as much damage to our nation as that does.

    And Bud — sorry, but I think paper receipts are a huge invitation to abuse. “Did you vote? Did you vote the way I told you to? Show me your receipt.”

  23. bud

    Brad that’s not what the receipt is for. The receipt is something that the voter can review then deposit into a box before he leaves the voting area. He wouldn’t keep it.

  24. Doug Ross

    Why not remove all party affiliation from the ballot completely? Just put the names there. Because if you’re voting, you know who you’re voting for… right?

    Imagine expecting the electorate to be informed….

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