While most South Carolina Republicans are in Tampa this week for the GOP convention, Attorney General Alan Wilson and a host of other state officials are in Washington, DC to defend the Palmetto State’s controversial voter ID law in front of a federal judge.
Wilson, who once held a voter ID discussion with James “ACORN pimp” O’Keefe, has always said the motive for the law was to prevent in-person voter fraud, even though there’s no evidence that it’s a problem in South Carolina. According to Talking Points Memo’s Ryan Reilly, however, the GOP officials defending voter ID now seem to be focusing on preventing college students from voting — even though none of their specific concerns would actually be fixed by the voter ID law:
George E. “Chip” Campsen, a Republican lawmaker in South Carolina who helped draft and pass the voter ID law, was the state’s first witness. … It was clear from Campsen’s testimony that one of the reasons he saw for passing the law was his belief that students attending college in state shouldn’t be able to vote in South Carolina. Campsen said he heard accounts from poll watchers of “hundreds of students registered at the same address” and accused students of “domicile shopping” by voting in South Carolina over their home state.
Palmetto Public Record has no doubt that many South Carolina students are registered at the same address. In fact, we’ll even tell you what one of them is: 1400 Greene Street in Columbia, the University of South Carolina’s post office and the mailing address for hundreds of students and perfectly eligible voters who’ve registered in South Carolina. Even so, none of this has to do with the original stated purpose of stopping people from pretending to be someone else at a polling place. If a student is already registered to vote in South Carolina, a voter ID law isn’t going to do anything about that.
During a break in the court session, Wilson told Reilly that military IDs are perfectly fine under South Carolina’s law, but college IDs shouldn’t be allowed — even though neither form of identification proves someone is a state resident:
Wilson said the reason was that students were largely “transient” and a school identification card “doesn’t prove you’re a resident.” He said voters using passports and military IDs, even those with out-of-state addresses, were known to be residents of the state because they were registered to vote in the state.
When TPM pointed out that college students who had out-of-state licenses were in the same situation, another attorney on South Carolina’s team jumped in to contradict Wilson, insisting the state law was about proving identity rather than residency. After that line of questioning, Wilson said he wouldn’t be speaking with reporters about the case until closing arguments on Friday.
Another voter ID supporter, Rep. Alan Clemmons, introduced a bill earlier this year that would require voter registration groups to register with the state. The bill, which failed before becoming law, would also impose serious fines on groups that even accidentally submit incorrect information. Once again, the measure was aimed at restricting grassroots registration drives such as ones often seen on college campuses. And once again, the law would have no effect whatsoever on voter fraud at the polls.
So to recap:
- Military folks who are in South Carolina for training are just fine to vote in-state, but students are “too transient”
- But voter ID isn’t about residency at all, which cancels out #1
- None of this has to do with in-person voter fraud at the polls
- There’s still no evidence of in-person voter fraud in South Carolina
- Voter ID still discriminates against minority communities, according to the Justice Department
From what we saw in court on Tuesday and in the past, voter ID is more about stopping groups that traditionally vote Democratic instead of actually trying to prevent a non-occurring crime. Meanwhile, Attorney General Wilson continues to waste South Carolina’s tax dollars to defend legalized voter suppression.