COLUMBIA -- Plans to require better proof of citizenship to register to vote in South Carolina have won an early test in the state Senate and opened the door to a new round of arguments about voting rights.
A Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Thursday approved a bill that said citizenship proof can come from documents that include a driver's license, birth certificate, United States passport or tribal identification.
The U.S. Justice Department last month rejected a new South Carolina law that requires people to show government-issued photographic identification when they vote in person.
Sen. Chip Campsen, an Isle of Palms Republican, said the measure is needed to keep people from registering to vote who have lied about being citizens.
Campsen said people who will lie about their citizenship status to get and keep jobs will lie to vote. He said his bill is not an effort to rehash the voter ID law.
"This bill is about determining someone's citizenship -- establishing your citizenship -- when you register to vote to make sure that people who are not U.S. citizens do not vote," Campsen said.
"I can't think of a more defensible concept," Campsen said. The citizenship measure cleared the panel with a 2-1 vote and now heads to the full Senate Judiciary Committee.
Columbia Democratic Sen. John Scott voted against the measure. He said that bill and others Campsen backs are an effort to keep people from voting.
"This is again about attacking people when they come to the polls and questioning whether they are American citizens and should be able to vote," Scott said.
And, as he did last year, Scott said he will use the voting bills in an effort to create a more open voting system in South Carolina that will allow people to vote.