COLUMBIA — The NAACP argues that South Carolina's new Voter ID law, among other similar measures nationwide, is a coordinated and comprehensive assault on black and Latino voters.
Benjamin Todd Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Monday that voters are more likely to be struck by lightning or record the spotting of a UFO than to witness voter fraud. The organization's objections are outlined in a new report, Defending Democracy: Ending 21st Century barriers to voting rights in America.
South Carolina was one of 14 states that passed 25 various voting measures in 2011 aimed at stamping out voter fraud, which the NAACP sees as a widespread legislative attack to suppress voters, "rooted in our nation's worst traditions of democracy," according to Ryan Haygood, the NAACP's director of political participation with the Legal Defense Fund.
The issue is a bitter partisan one. South Carolina's Republican leaders pushed the new law, signed by Gov. Nikki Haley in May, to require voters to bring a photo ID to the polls on Election Day to prove their identity. Driver's licenses, state-issued ID cards, passports and military ID are among the few forms of identification that will be accepted.
Forthcoming voter registration cards with photos will be issued and accepted at the polls.
The U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing the law. The law cannot go into effect until after the Justice Department authorizes it.
Lawsuits are also pending.
Supporters see the law as a common-sense approach to protect the integrity of the election process. As Haley signed the law, she said showing a photo ID is a way of life in the 21st century. She also offered free rides to the state Department of Motor Vehicles offices earlier this year to help people obtain photo IDs.
NAACP and other opponents say the laws, such as voter ID requirements, will disenfranchise the poor, the elderly and college students, some of whom do not have an ID that will be accepted at the poll. To obtain one can be an expensive process for those who do not have a birth certificate or have changed their name, opponents say.
The laws follow record minority turnout for the 2008 presidential election of Barack Obama, the NAACP officials say. States should be increasing voter opportunities, they say.
S.C. Sen. Chip Campsen, an Isle of Palms Republican who first wrote the South Carolina's bill, has said his decision to file legislation had nothing to do with Obama's election. He said he filed the bill after the U.S. Supreme Court released an opinion on a challenge to a voter ID law in Indiana.
"Nothing could be further from the truth," Campsen said in August. "The timing has to do with the Supreme Court issuing guidance on this issue."
Read more in Tuesday's editions of The Post and Courier.