No right is more fundamental to our democracy than the right to vote; it is protected by fully six amendments to the Constitution.
South Carolina legislators are on the verge of passing a bill that will suppress this all-important right by requiring voters to produce a state- issued photo ID to vote. State Election Commission officials have stated that our recent history holds no credible evidence that anyone has tried to steal another person's vote by impersonation, an exceedingly rare kind of fraud. The real threat of vote theft comes from the undue impact of voter ID laws on students and poor, minority, elderly and disabled voters, who do not have ready access to the documents required to obtain a state-issued photo ID.
The birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees and adoption papers required to get a state-issued photo ID are costly and amount to a poll tax. The bill's proponents have failed to show why the time, money and effort spent on providing free photo IDs would not be better spent on reforms that would expand the voting franchise, such as election day registration or no-fault absentee voting.
The bill will disenfranchise 178,000 registered South Carolina voters who have already met our state's tough identification requirements. Our elected officials should be encouraging full participation in our democratic process, not imposing additional barriers between Americans and the voting booth.
Victoria Middleton executive director