By Roger Leaks, Jr., Former South Carolina State Elections Commissioner
As a former South Carolina State Election Commissioner, I hope that the U.S. District Court will see the new South Carolina voter ID law for what it is and block its implementation. The state’s new law is nothing but a devious and unnecessary obstruction that was crafted and designed to disenfranchise over 200,000 South Carolinians.
During my years as a board member on the South Carolina State Election Commission, it was our goal to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to cast his or her vote in a voter friendly atmosphere. We worked to insure that all voters feel confident that their votes are counted in a timely, proper fashion.
We made sure that every voter could cast his or her ballot without duress, intimidation, or interference.
We encouraged and worked hard to increase voter turn-out. We implemented curbside voting, we publicized early voting and we introduced a statewide electronic voting system.
And, most importantly, we implemented and maintained the integrity of our elections by carefully checking whether each voter’s name was included on the current voter registration list and that each voter possessed and presented a current, properly signed, voter registration card or a valid South Carolina driver’s license. The process worked like a charm and I saw increasing levels of citizens’ enthusiasm and participation in our state.
Our current election process is not broken. It is working well.
Some say that a new voter ID law is necessary to prevent voter identification fraud. Well, I can attest that, after sitting on many Voter Appeal Boards, I have never encountered a single case of voter ID fraud, real or imaginary.
Moreover, the history we have worked so hard and so successfully to overcome is one of voter intimidation and disenfranchisement – not fraud.
The law is discriminatory and unnecessarily restrictive because it will impede the free flowing election process for over 200,000 South Carolinians, mostly African-Americans, and it conflicts with the intent and language of the federal Voting Rights Act. Implementation of the new voter ID law will cause irreparable harm and chaos to the voting process in South Carolina.