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Nearly 180,000 SC voters affected by new voter ID law

Published: Jul. 15, 2011 at 9:29 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 25, 2011 at 9:29 PM EDT
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By Brandi Cummings - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - About 93 percent of South Carolina residents are not affected by South Carolina's new voter ID law. The other seven percent -- those who are registered to vote, but do not have a photo id -- may have to take an additional step in order to vote. 
    
But right now, things are in limbo until the Department of Justice weighs in.

On May 18, new legislation was signed requiring voters to show a photo ID to cast a ballot. Any change to election laws must be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice, so some provisions in the law are not yet in effect.
    
Elections Commission officials say if the law is approved, most South Carolinians will not be affected. However, about 178,000 registered voters do not have a state-issued license or ID and may need one. "Those people will have to take some action before their next election," said Elections Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire.

Right now, voters can provide three forms of identification to vote: a South Carolina driver's license, a DMV ID card or a SC voter registration card. If the legislation is approved from the DOJ, voters can provide five forms of ID: a South Carolina drivers license, a DMV ID card, a federal military ID, a passport or a SC voter registration card with a photo.

"For a photo registration card, it's the same as registering to vote," said Whitmire. "This new law does nothing to change the process for registering to vote."

Both the DMV-issued photo ID card and the new SC voter registration card are free. The DMV-issued card requires several forms of documentation. "We have to have proof of their identity, proof of their birth, their residency in South Carolina and proof of their Social security number," said DMV spokeswoman Jean Smolen.

Although not yet in effect, the voter registration card would  require the same information used to register to vote. "You can register to vote with a current, valid photo ID or you could use a bank statement, a utility bill, pay stub, or anything showing your name and address in the county," said Whitmire.

The information about the new law was sent to the Department of Justice about two weeks ago. The DOJ has 60 days to respond.

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