H. 3003, introduced to the State House last week, would amend the State Constitution to include photo-bearing student identification cards from colleges and universities as valid ID in order to vote.
The bill is sponsored by Reps. J. Todd Rutherford, Robert Brown, Mia Butler Garrick and Mia McLeod. It was introduced and read on Jan. 8, and then referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
Beginning this year, voters must have a driver’s license or other state-issued photo ID, passport or military ID in order to participate in elections.
Including student IDs would greatly benefit younger voters, too.
One out of every five Americans aged 18 to 24 years does not have a state-issued identification card with photograph, according to a recent study.
Almost 290,000 registered voters in South Carolina are in this under-25 age range, meaning the voting rights of approximately 57,000 of them could currently be at risk.
The percentage of younger licensed drivers has notably declined in the last few decades, too. A 1983 study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute reported that roughly 90 percent of Americans 18 to 24 had a driver’s license that year.
A 2008 follow-up by UMTRI found much lower numbers, though. Only 65 percent of 18 year olds had a photo license, versus 80 percent in 1983. For 19 year olds, the percentage dropped from 87 to 75. The number between 20 and 24 years with licenses fell 10 percent to 82.
A CIRCLE study from last October reports that less than a third of younger Americans know of these voter identification requirements, as well.
When first passed by state legislature in 2011, South Carolina’s Voter ID law required a state-issued photo identification card, including driver’s license, in order to vote. The State Election Commission was also to offer photo-bearing voter registration cards.
In December of that year, the U.S. Dept. of Justice rejected the new law on grounds that it would unfairly affect minorities. South Carolina contested the ruling in federal court last year, and won after offering to include military IDs and passports as accepted IDs.
Persons without any accepted photo ID can still cast provisional ballots, too. Voters will have to show a regular, non-photo voter registration card, then sign an affidavit explaining why they don’t have a photo ID. Their provisional ballots will be counted unless a county election commission refutes the reason stated in the affidavit.
Approximately 240,000 registered voters in the state do not have required identification in order to vote this year.
Residents of the 1st Congressional District will face the new Voter ID restrictions soon. A May 7 special election to replace former representative Tim Scott, who was recently appointed to the U.S. Senate, will follow a March 19 primary.