First test of voter I.D. law proceeding smoothly today in Branchville
BRANCHVILLE — The first voter of South Carolina's voter ID requirement law cast her ballot at 7:04 this morning.
Gayle Ott, of this tiny Orangeburg County crossroads came out to fill a vacancy on town council.
Ott said she did not find showing her ID to be an inconvenience at all. “We've always had to show a piece of paper so I didn't see any difference, “ Ott said.
She was a little shy about her celebrity but she cast her ballot and left with her husband and son.
When polls opened at 7 a.m., voters were required to show one of five forms of photo ID, including a driver's license, federal military ID or U.S. passport, to cast a ballot.
As of 10 a.m. about 30 people have voted. The voting has proceeded smoothly.
Most voters have shown either a S.C. driver's license or a military ID.
No one has been turned away or not shown proper ID. There has been no protest at the or near the precinct.
There are two lawyers from US Dept. Of Justice Civil Rights Division observing Branchville election. Both attorneys are from DC.
No representatives from either the NAACP or the ACLU are present.
Branchville has about 430 registered voters.
The American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina, meanwhile, is also making it known that voters can take part in the election without having to show a photo ID, if they can illustrate they faced a “reasonable impediment” to getting one.
In a letter this month to Orangeburg County election officials, ACLU officials asked that the option be included and detailed on the county's election website, and also promoted via signs placed at the town's two polling places.
One available procedure is that voters without an ID be allowed to cast a “provisional ballot,” which are set aside and counted when the county Board of Canvassers meets after the election to certify and review the ballots.
The new ID law took effect Jan. 1 after a federal court review and after a bitter partisan fight in the Legislature.
Republicans argued the change would curb voter fraud, while Democrats argued there is little evidence of polling fraud being a problem in the state, and that the law will depress turnout among the elderly and poor.
Other identification options today include an S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles-issued ID or a S.C. voter registration card with picture. Orangeburg elections officials said only a handful of people, probably less than 10, had applied for a locally issued voting ID card.
The candidates on the ballot to fill the council vacancy today are Charlene Norris Negron, Sammie Whisenhunt and Luvenia Williams.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.