COLUMBIA -- South Carolina's Department of Motor Vehicles has plenty of space to accommodate those needing a state-provided ride to get a photo ID for voting, its director said Wednesday.
Executive Director Kevin Shwedo said most residents calling a toll-free number to arrange a ride are looking for information about what is required to obtain the document, and most have some way of getting transportation on their own.
"We aren't even close to being full," Shwedo said. "If the current pace doesn't change, we will be fine."
Last week, Shwedo and Gov. Nikki Haley announced that the DMV is setting aside Sept. 28 to transport people who need photo identification cards. People are asked to call a toll-free number to arrange a ride to the state's 67 DMV offices.
A state law under federal review requires voters to present a driver's license, DMV photo ID, passport, military ID, or a new photo voter-registration card that election officials expect to start making next month. Residents are asked to call 1-855-STATE-ID by 5 p.m. Sept. 22 to reserve a ride.
Shwedo said he didn't know how many slots have been reserved, but said the toll-free number hasn't been overwhelmed with callers.
"Most people just want the information" about what is required to obtain the photo ID, he said. Many have transportation available to them through family or friends and don't need the state-assisted driving program, he added.
Shwedo said he is working with the state Budget and Control Board, which manages the state's fleet of vehicles, to get proper transportation for those with a disability. Health agencies are also helping, he said.
"We're working those details," he said. "We want to provide everyone an opportunity to obtain an ID card."
He said he also is encouraging advocacy groups to provide their vehicles to help transport people who are in wheelchairs. He said he has invited representatives of the elderly and disabled to meet with him to work on securing transportation for anyone who needs assistance.
Shwedo stressed that people need not wait for Sept. 28 to work on getting the photo ID documentation, and that DMV offices are able to help people get it on any day.
And if people do not have the required paperwork, Shwedo said, his agency is working to help residents find out exactly what needs to be done to help them get the photo ID.
"We can even make recommendations to help them solve some of their issues," he said, such as getting court assistance to deal with the lack of documentation or various spellings of names on certain documents.
Democrats and civil rights groups have challenged the new photo ID law, saying it amounts to a modern day poll tax that will suppress the vote of poor, disabled and elderly voters who don't have a driver's license.