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Voter ID

Posted: September 25, 2012 12:13 p.m.
Updated: September 26, 2012 5:00 a.m.


In a day when Democrats and Republicans will argue about what color the sky is or whether the wind blows, the latest controversy comes along with South Carolina’s new voter registration statutes, which have been challenged by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who says the move could disenfranchise black voters. The S.C. law would require voters to show at least one kind of proper identification, something that Palmetto voters did for years. But opponents say requiring such a measure would punish people who don’t have ready access to such documents.

The embattled law is one of more than a dozen that mainly Republican-majority state legislatures have passed in recent years. It would require a voter to show one of five forms of identification: a driver’s license, a photo ID issued by the state Department of Motor Vehicles, a passport, military ID or a voter registration card with a photo issued by the local elections office.

Those measures don’t seem to create a giant obstacle to voting. Some can be obtained free of charge, and there are few people who don’t have a friend, neighbor, relative or church member who wouldn’t be glad to transport someone a few miles to obtain such a card.

During the process, there’s been a lot of scholarly lawyer talk -- incomprehensible to many people listening to it -- along with allegations from some South Carolinians that U.S. Attorney General Holder is ignoring the judgment of his aides, who believe the South Carolina law is permissible.

This case could be a simple one: (1) as many people as possible should be able to vote, as long as they have registered and can prove who they are; and (b) the safeguards don’t appear to be set up to disenfranchise voters who have met simple steps laid out above.

There is, of course, a precedent in examining this: we certainly do not want to return to the days of Jim Crow voting, when blacks were often denied the poll for a bucketful of trumped-up charges.

Having to prove you are who you say you are doesn’t fall among those old tricks. It seems a reasonable way to keep the voting system as clean as possible. South Carolina lawyers have appeared to implement as many safeguards as possible to assure Justice Department officials that this isn’t some scam. It appears, at least in our judgment, that it is legitimate and well conceived.



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