COLUMBIA -- Democrats seized on what seemed like an unlikely promise Gov. Nikki Haley made in July: The Republican governor said she would take people to the DMV herself to prove the state's new voter ID wasn't a burden.
The state Democratic Party circulated a video of a 76-year-old black man and Army veteran who said he called the governor's office for help getting an ID only to be turned away.
On Wednesday, Haley came through on the promise with details on how voters can catch a free ride from the state to their local Department of Motor Vehicles office for one day, Sept. 28, to get a free state-issued ID card. The state might have to regroup on the free ride offer if a significant number of the estimated 178,000 registered voters without a state-issued photo ID ask for a ride, such as tapping other state agencies for additional vehicles, said Kevin Shwedo, DMV director.
Haley said she is amazed at the politics at play over an attempt to protect the integrity of an election.
"It is common sense," she said. "It is something that everybody understands. It is something that we use on a daily basis -- we identify who we say we are."
The law is not yet in effect. The U.S. Department of Justice must authorize it first, and the agency announced earlier this week that it will take more time to decide.
Haley said the goal of her arranging the rides is so more people, not fewer, can vote. Haley has also since directed state officials to follow up with the elderly man, Robert Tucker, who reached out to the governor. They've tried to help him sort out problems resulting from the fact that the name he uses is significantly different than his legal name listed on his birth certificate, a DMV spokeswoman said.
To get a state-issued ID card, a person needs a birth certificate, a Social Security card and a document, such as a utility bill, with their name and address to prove their residency.
Democrats shifted their focus by saying the governor's chauffeur service doesn't get to the heart of the matter.
Sen. John Land, D-Manning, said catching a ride is perhaps the simplest part of the problem for potentially disenfranchised South Carolinians to vote under the new law.
"It's laughable," he said. "This is kindergarten-type stuff, to come up with a scheme like this."
Land said some elderly folks don't have a birth certificate, or they have an incomplete one, and that can be an expensive situation to sort out. His law firm charges $800 for a court-ordered birth certificate.
Land contends the real reason Republicans pushed for the law is to throw up roadblocks for certain voters following President Barack Obama's election, an issue the bill's lead sponsor Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Isle of Palms, has said is flat wrong. Campsen said he introduced the bill after a Supreme Court ruling on the case.
Land said the state has had no convictions for voter fraud.
The cost of the rides will be in staff time and fuel, but how much will depend on the demand. Land further contests the agency's ability to use its resources on the rides, saying the Legislature did not allocate money for that.
Need a ride?
What: The state Department of Motor Vehicles is providing rides for voters to get a state-issued ID card.When: Rides to local DMV office will be given on Sept. 28. Call by Sept. 22 to make an appointment.Who to call: 1-855-StateID to schedule a ride. An official will give you a two-hour window for pick-up.What you'll need: A birth certificate, Social Security card and a document, such as a utility bill, that shows your name and address. DMV officials will explain how to obtain those documents.Cost: The ride and ID card are free.
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