Charms of another era are vanishing

The school's petting zoo was the personal touch of the late Gene Sires, the former principal.

COLUMBIA -- Twenty-five people are hitching a ride from Gov. Nikki Haley today to pick up a state-issued ID card so they don't risk their right to vote in the future.

The Republican governor arranged for the rides to the Department of Motor Vehicles after she signed into a law new election rules that require voters to carry a government-issued photo ID to the polls.

The new law will not go into effect until the U.S. Department of Justice approves it, an extra step required because of South Carolina's past voter discrimination.

Nearly 700 individuals called a special hotline Haley set up to find out more about the law, but only 25 followed through on the offer for a ride.

Nearly 217,000 registered voters in South Carolina lack a driver's license or DMV-issued photo ID, according to updated figures from the State Election Commission. That's almost 40,000 additional voters than previously thought.

"Should it have been more? You know, there were a lot of people who said there were thousands of people that were not able to get to the DMV," Haley said. "None of us knew what we were walking into, but we were prepared whether it was 25 or 2,500."

The costs of the rides is negligible, said Kevin Shwedo, the DMV's director.

Haley said the exercise should prove to the federal watchdog agency that the state wants more people to vote, not fewer. Supporters of the new law believe it is necessary to protect the integrity of the vote. They also have said that showing a government photo ID is part of everyday life.

Opponents argued that the new law will disenfranchise voters, especially the poor and the elderly. A ride to the DMV was the smallest road block for some people without an acceptable ID, they said.

The real problem is people who have no birth certificate and would have to go through an expensive court process to obtain the documents that DMV requires for a driver's license or state ID card.

Voters can use passports and military ID to cast a ballot, under the pending law.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.