Does South Carolina still need Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act?

“I think when you look at the effort with the voter ID laws in South Carolina and other states — and in my perspective the voter ID laws were basically voter-suppression laws — I think definitely we need it. The voter ID law is the poster boy of why we need Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.”

S.C. Rep. David Mack, D-Charleston

“I don’t think it’s needed any longer in our state. We passed a voter ID similar to what Indiana did. Indiana voters were able to have theirs go into effect immediately. Ours we had to sue all the way up to Washington for a three-judge panel to agree that ours was OK.

“We passed a reapportionment plan in South Carolina this year. That plan was passed by the House, passed by the Senate, signed by the governor, approved by the Justice Department, challenged by lawsuits, went all the way up the court chain, and survived that whole process intact without a single line being changed. So South Carolina has it right how you handle these issues.

“I understand the reasons why they did this back in the ’60s, but today the way we handle things in South Carolina is similar to the way they’re handled in other states, and the Voting Rights Act either ought to apply to everyone or it shouldn’t exist.”

House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston

“In the midst of the most recent attacks on voter access, the Voter Rights Act has played a crucial role in beating back discriminatory voting measures. It is still absolutely necessary to guarantee that every citizen in the United States has access where it is most important, and that’s at the ballot box.

“I don’t think there is anything wrong with creating safeguards for the most sacred right of all Americans, and that is the right to vote, and I believe the Voting Rights Act does just that.”

Richard Hricik, chairman of the Charleston County Democratic Party

“It violates the constitutional amendment which guarantees every state a representative form of government. It’s almost like marshal law.

“Nobody can make a credible argument that Charleston County of 2013 is the same as 1964. The conditions that existed 40 or 50 years ago are no longer applicable today.

“If you want to change a voting precinct from one side of the street to the other, you have to go to Washington. It costs time and money that’s not necessary, and it creates separate racial voting districts to the detriment of all people. It separates people based on race.

“It’s almost like a mark of shame for what happened 50 years ago. The population has changed. There’s no reason to have that now.”

Larry Kobrovsky, a Charleston attorney who was preparing a lawsuit against Section 5 until the Supreme Court agreed to review it

“I think the whole brouhaha over the voter ID law shows why we still need it. It passed muster after South Carolina went to great lengths to make it easier for people to get a voter ID. There’s been some progress, but we still need it.

“Section 5 does not need to be eliminated. Section 5 needs to be enforced in all 50 states.”

The Rev. Joseph Darby, senior pastor of Morris Brown AME Church in Charleston and vice president of the state chapter of the NAACP

Dave Munday compiled this report.