COLUMBIA — State election officials have printed over 1,100 photo identification cards for voters to use at the polls to comply with South Carolina’s new voter ID law.
The cards are issued by counties, but made at the State Election Commission’s headquarters because officials determined there wouldn’t be enough demand to send a printer to all 46 counties, commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said Friday.
The actual number of voters who have requested the cards is lower, because the 1,100 printed include duplicates made to correct errors and test cards printed for counties to look at, Whitmire said.
South Carolina’s law requiring voters to show a photo identification to cast a regular ballot gets its first big test this month during primaries for the open 1st District U.S. House race in the Lowcountry.
The law has been in effect for months and used in smaller contests like a special election for a Greenville state House seat and for several municipal elections. Few problems have been reported.
“I’d say a handful at most, and none were serious,” Whitmire said.
Voters who request identification cards are given paper ones similar to those all voters receive after they register.
The photo ID comes in the mail a week or two later, because officials print them once a week.
There were some initial delays in getting the photos cards delivered because the Election Commission changed the format of the card. Initially, the county the voter was registered in was printed on the front, but officials decided to leave that off so the same card could be used if a voter moved somewhere else in the state.
“We took the county name off to make it more portable,” Whitmire said.
The new law allows people to vote without photo identification, but they have to cast a provisional ballot. For the first test of the new law in Branchville, there were zero provisional ballots. For the special House election, there were a few, Whitmire said.
The Election Commission plans to continue its education campaign about the new voter ID law through the 2014 elections and likely beyond.
“The message to voters is, get a photo ID if you can,” Whitmire said. “You need to get one, but if you can’t, then bring an old voter registration card to the polls with you. You’ll be able to sign an affidavit and vote.”