THE ISSUE: Voter ID
OUR OPINION: Compromise from 2010 should be resurrected
Here we go again. One of the key battles of the 2010 legislative session looms large again.
South Carolina House Republicans wasted no time this past week pushing for a measure to require voters to show photo identification at the polls.
A judiciary panel advanced the bill Thursday on a party-line 3-2 vote, according to The Associated Press. The meeting initially set for Tuesday was rescheduled after icy road conditions caused the first day of session to be delayed.
Republicans in both chambers say it is a top priority this year.
The voter ID measure died last June as House and Senate members failed to agree on a compromise.
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Republicans called it an issue of voter integrity, noting that official identification is required for practically everything in today's world.
Democrats called it an attempt to suppress the minority vote, citing the number of voters without driver's licenses or other forms of ID. They pushed for a compromise that included no-excuse early voting across each county, a change that would improve the system of absentee voting that today is de-facto early voting that requires a person often to misstate his or her reason for voting ahead of Election Day.
After the Senate last year stalled the voter ID legislation, the upper chamber worked on the compromise that included early voting. They made it clear to the House there would be early voting in the bill or the legislation would die.
The House rejected the compromise, with some lawmakers arguing early voting was not appropriate in that a voter can change his or her mind by Election Day, and that early voting is a disadvantage for incumbents working in Columbia until just a short time before the election.
Legislators have enough to do this year with budget issues alone. On this issue, put the compromise back on the table. Require voter identification but also allow for a period of early voting. This is one matter over which Republicans and Democrats should not wage war. The voting process should be as secure and accessible as possible.