SC’s New Voter ID Law: Where’s the Supression?

As I waited in line to vote this morning, a poll worker handed me an information card about South Carolina’s new Voter ID law that will take effect on January 1, 2013.

Any mention of a Voter ID law, a rule that requires voters to show photo ID to be allowed to vote, immediately solicits screams of “voter suppression.” After reading this card, produced by the South Carolina Election Commission, it is clear to me that those who make such accusations either have not read the facts about this law, or are intentionally ignoring it to elicit fear.

I’m going to reproduce the entire card. The next time I hear someone complain of someone trying to “take away one’s right to vote,” I’m going to send them to this post. The card’s content is in blue and red; my commentary is in black.


Beginning January 1, 2013, you will be
asked to show one of the following
Photos IDs at your polling place:

  • S.C. Driver’s License
  • ID Card issued by S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles
  • S.C. Voter Registration Card with Photo
  • Federal Military ID
  • U.S. Passport

If you do not currently have one of the
Photo IDs above, you can make your voting
experience as fast and easy as possible
by getting one free of charge:

  • Get a voter registration card with a photo from your county voter registration and elections office by simply providing your date of birth and the last four digits of your Social Security Number.
  • Get a DMV ID card at a local DMV office. Check with DMV or for required documents.

That’s the front of the card. The rules seem simple enough, and contrary to what you might have heard, there’s no special, single ID card that is required; several options exist.

If any of those options, however, seem too much trouble, or are for any other reason impossible, here’s what you’ll find on the reverse side of the card:

If you have a reasonable impediment to obtaining
Photo ID, you may vote a provisional ballot after
showing your non-photo voter registration card.
A reasonable impediment is any valid reason,
beyond your control, which created an obstacle
to obtaining Photo ID. Some examples include:

  • Religious objection to being photographed
  • Disability or illness
  • Work schedule
  • Lack of transportation
  • Lack of birth certificate
  • Family responsibilities
  • Election within short time frame of implementation of Photo ID law (January 1, 2013)
  • Any other obstacle you find reasonable

Note that last point: not any obstacle the state or the county finds reasonable, but any that you find reasonable. If the rest of them didn’t cover enough ground for you, that last one ought to take care of anything else.

To vote under the reasonable
impediment exception:

  1. Present your current, non-photo cover registration card at the polling place.
  2. Sign an affidavit stating why you could not obtain a Photo ID.
  3. Cast a provisional ballot that will be counted unless the county election commission has reason to believe your affidavit is false.

If you do NOT have a Photo ID and do NOT have a
reasonable impediment to obtaining one, or simply
forgot to bring your Photo ID with you to the
polling place, you may still vote a provisional ballot.
However, for your vote to be counted, you must
provide one of the Photo IDs to the county election
commission prior to the certification of the election
(usually Thursday or Friday after the election).

So even if you can’t get everything done by election day, you then have at least two more days to take care of what ought to have already been taken care of.

Does this sound like “suppression” to you? It sure doesn’t sound like it to me.


  1. It doesn’t sound like suppression to me at all. Here in Maryland, you do not have to present any ID to vote – and it’s scary that to think that the system is ripe for fraud. For those who feel it is not fair to present ID, then please let your voice be heard because you need to present ID to get into any Federal Court house or secured building…but voting should require you to prove who you are….it doesn’t matter if it not happening, we need to ask for this ID to prevent fraud. I do not understand why so many are against this, unless they have something to hide

  2. I’ve seen the “suppression” more as mistrust among minorities. For many folks, this hearkens back to pre-Civil Rights days where you had to prove something or even pay something in order to vote (untrue then, untrue for the most part now). I see it as more of a trust issue than anything. To stand too harshly FOR it is, to me, almost as bad as standing so vehemently AGAINST. In the FOR camp, while it makes sense, there’s also no solid data that what it’s preventing is even happening. In the AGAINST camp, I hope folks open up and trust each other to really give benefit of the doubt.

    1. RickCaffeinated Unfortunately, I think too many people have a vested interest in creating the mood of mistrust we’ve seen. I also hope people will trust the system, but I doubt I’ll see that happen.

      1. patricksplace unrelated – your blogpost commenting system might be off. Up top it says “no comments” and the link doesn’t go anywhere (might be in wordpress default?).

        1. RickCaffeinated There’s definitely a lag between the comment counts on the front page and Livefyre. For some reason, it takes up to about 3 hours before the counts are corrected. They’re looking into this, but part of the problem seems to have been the old theme causing conflicts. I’ll ask again now that I’m on a new theme that seems to cooperate better.
          As for the comments link, I’ll check on that, too. Didn’t realize the link didn’t work! Thanks for letting me know.

  3. As you appropriately noted, it was NEVER about suppression.  This is simply an attempt to make sure that the ballots cast are legitimate.  Although some will challenge it for their own political purposes, anyone who honestly doesn’t want to ensure that every single vote is letigimate is simply un-American.

Comments are closed.

Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.