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Washington’s anti-S.C. disposition

Posted: January 3, 2012 11:37 a.m.
Updated: January 4, 2012 5:00 a.m.

If you pay attention to the news -- and if you’re reading this community newspaper it’s likely that you do --  you’re probably aware that the federal government just rejected South Carolina’s recently-passed “Voter ID” law, which would require voters to present photo identification before casting a ballot in an election.

The U.S. Department of Justice ruled that our state's new law violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a well-intentioned law that many believe has outlived its purpose. The Voting Rights Act, which affects mostly Southern states, aims to ensure that state and local laws relating to elections don’t dilute the votes of minorities. However, it is awkwardly applied; for example, the act includes a provision requiring new laws affecting public elections to be submitted to the Department of Justice for approval. That part of the act applies to South Carolina, but not North Carolina. And it applies to most of Virginia; however, 14 counties in Virginia are exempt from the act.

Personally, I support South Carolina’s Voter ID law. Voting, in my view, is a solemn responsibility, and we have an obligation to ensure that election results uphold the wishes of the majority. We’re all required to present a photo ID when we write a check, rent a car or pick up a prescription, and not one of those activities has such an impact on your future as when you cast a ballot in an election. Yet, as it stands, a photo ID is not required to vote. Here's my question. Why wait until something bad happens -- such as a major occurrence of voter fraud -- before enacting a preventive measure?

Still, there are many people whom I respect who oppose the Voter ID law.

But regardless of where one stands on this issue, it’s the second time in less than a year that the Obama administration has dropped the hammer on South Carolina … and one has to wonder if there is some anti-South Carolina bias at work here.

Last April, the Obama administration filed a lawsuit challenging the Boeing Company's decision to locate its new 787 Dreamliner aircraft assembly plant in South Carolina. In this lawsuit, the National Labor Relations Board, a federal agency, claimed choosing South Carolina for the plant instead of Washington State was unfair to labor unions. Boeing’s existing Washington State plant is unionized, while South Carolina is a “right to work” state, meaning workers are free to choose for themselves whether or not to join, or to financially support, a union.

The lawsuit was recently settled, but only after members of South Carolina’s Congressional delegation -- Sens. Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham and Reps. Tim Scott, Mick Mulvaney, Jeff Duncan, Joe Wilson and Trey Gowdy -- came to South Carolina’s defense. 

Unlike the Voter ID issue, in which people on both sides make some valid points, the Boeing issue was pretty cut and dry. The Obama administration was willing to take away thousands of jobs from our state in order to reward labor unions, which is a favored constituency of many in Washington. 

Is the federal government imposing a bias against South Carolina, a predominately conservative state that heavily voted against Mr. Obama in 2008? 

I can’t say for sure, but what’s clear is that our state is being held to a different standard. Consider this:  Other states, such as Indiana, have recently implemented similar voter fraud-prevention measures. And what did the federal government do to stop them? Nothing.

 It’s a presidential election year, which means the president could possibly visit our state between now and the fall election. While it’d be unfair to hold the president personally responsible for every action taken by the federal government, South Carolinians would be justified in asking Mr. Obama -- who promised to “change” Washington -- about whether there’s an anti-South Carolina mindset within his government, and whether there’s anything he can -- or is willing to do -- to change it.

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