S.C. voter identification law on trial this week

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S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson
  • S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson

S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson is in Washington, D.C., today, defending a controversial state law that requires all voters to show photo identification at the polls. In December, the U.S. Justice Department struck down the law as discriminatory against black voters, and now South Carolina is suing to allow the law to take effect in the November elections.

The case will appear in U.S. District Court before a three-judge panel. As a plaintiff, the State of South Carolina will call as witnesses state Sen. Chip Campsen (R-Charleston), state Rep. Bobby Harrell (R-Charleston), and Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, among others. The S.C. State Conference of the NAACP, the League of Women Voters of South Carolina, and the S.C. Progressive Network have all signed on as defendant-intervenors in the case.

Proponents of the law, which was passed in May 2011, have argued that it will help prevent instances of voter fraud — that is, people showing up to the polls and giving the names of dead people or impersonating other voters. But proven examples of voter fraud are hard to come by, and opponents of the law say it will disproportionately prevent racial minorities from voting. According to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, minority registered voters are 20 percent more likely than white registered voters to lack a Department of Motor Vehicles-issued photo ID. The law could also present an obstacle for low-income and homeless people to vote.

In April, according to the Associated Press, Alan Wilson spoke at an event in Columbia where he defended South Carolina's voter ID law and raised money to support James O'Keefe, the conservative video prankster who famously punked the community organizing group ACORN with a pimp costume.

At the gathering, O'Keefe vowed to make more videos exposing voter fraud at the polls. "We plan to actually catch non-citizens voting," he said.

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