UPDATED (8 p.m. Aug. 27, 2012): After a day spent in federal court, Attorney General Alan Wilson held a conference call with the media.
Wilson was joined in Washington, D.C. by Lt. Governor Glenn McConnell, House Speaker Bobby Harrell, Sen. Chip Campson (R – Charleston) and Rep. Alan Clemmons (R – Horry). Campson and Clemmons took the stand and Clemmons will continue his testimony on Tuesday.
Wilson immediately defended the Voter ID law against charges that it would suppress the vote of the poor and minorities, groups that tend to vote Democratic.
“The bill does not change the requirements for registering to vote. Citizens can get an ID free of charge at their nearest election office,” Wilson said.
Wilson also noted that even if voters show up at a polling station on Election Day without an ID, they can vote if they fill out an impediment affidavit which grants an immediate waiver to the voter ID criteria. “That is the ultimate safety net in my opinion,” Wilson said.
Wilson also responded to critics who think the bill will limit turnout in general. “There is no evidence of (voter suppression),” Wilson said. “In fact it’s quite the contrary, voter turnout has actually increased in areas where voter ID laws have passed.
What there is also little evidence of is actual voter fraud. A recent report found just 10 examples of fraud across the entire country since 2000. View the report here.
The level of fraud in the report would affect one out of every 15 million voters.
South Carolina has approximately 2.7 million voters. Assuming that there was 100 percent turnout (it rarely exceeds 60 percent) the voter ID law would prevent voter fraud once every five years.
As a result of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, South Carolina is one of the states that must get approval from the Department of Justice before passing any election laws.
ORIGINAL STORY (8 a.m. Aug. 27, 2012): South Carolina's 2011 Voter ID law, struck down last year by the Department of Justice, gets its chance in court this week.
Attorney General Alan Wilson, who filed suit against the DOJ and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, will plead the state's case to a three-judge panel in Washington, D.C.
The DOJ struck down the law, which requires photo identification cards for anyone who tries to vote, on the grounds that it does not adequately protect voters from discrimination.
However, South Carolina and Wilson have argued that several states' laws already enacted are very similar, and the cards can be obtained for free from the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles.
The state’s Voter I.D. law was passed in 2011, and requires voters to show photo identification. The identification can be obtained free of charge from the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles.
“South Carolina’s photo identification law does not bar anyone from voting, but merely imposes on voters a responsibility to obtain an approved photo identification card and to bring it to the polls,” claims the South Carolina suit.