BRANCHVILLE - Today’s test of the state’s new voter I.D. law seemingly is going on without incident during a special election to fill a vacant seat on the local Town Council.
More than 120 people have turned out so far with most mechanically providing their driver’s license at the check-in table when asked to show photographic evidence of who they are.
The Legislature’s photo I.D. law officially took effect Jan. 1 after a federal court review and a bitter partisan fight in the Statehouse. Republicans argued the change would curb instances of fraud, while Democrats said South Carolina has found little evidence of voter fraud or that it’s even a problem in the state. They contend the effect would be to suppress participation among minorities, the elderly and the poor.
Meanwhile, Tuesday’s vote was closely watched by Washington, D.C., as two representatives of the U.S. Justice Department’s civil rights and voting division were on site in this Orangeburg County community watching the day unfold.
Representatives of the ACLU, the League of Women Voters and the NAACP, all of which had raised criticisms about the I.D. requirement, were not seen at the town’s lone polling site during the first half of the day.
If there was an issue today it was from the several people who showed up not knowing the new requirement was in effect and having left their photo I.D.s in their cars.
“It’s more trouble than it’s worth,” said one elderly woman who had to go back and retrieve hers.
While Tuesday’s vote was the first official test of the I.D. requirement, the first big and local Charleston area use will be the March 19 special primary and May election to fill the five-county 1st Congressional District vacancy created when Tim Scott was chosen by Gov. Nikki Haley as the state’s new U.S. senator.
Three candidates are on the Branchville ballot to fill the council vacancy. The candidates included Charlene Norris Negron, Sammie Whisenhunt and Luvenia Williams.
All three are vying to fill the remainder of the term of Glenn Miller, who became mayor after Tim Cooner died during the summer.