by Barry Smith
The General Assembly just provided a little wiggle room for people who go to the polls next year and don’t have an acceptable photo ID. The bill, which was approved by lawmakers on Thursday, needs only Gov. Pat McCrory’s signature to become law.
A voter who shows up to vote without an acceptable photo ID would be allowed to cast a provisional ballot provided that the voter declares on a form provided by the State Board of Elections that he or she is the same person who appeared at the polling place and has a “reasonable impediment” preventing the voter from obtaining an acceptable photo ID.
Acceptable reasonable impediments include lack of transportation, disability or illness, lack of birth certificate or other documents needed to obtain a photo ID, work schedule, family responsibilities, lost or stolen photo ID, photo ID applied for but not received by the voter, or other reasonable impediment. If the voter says other reasonable impediment, the voter must write down what the impediment was.
Such a voter must also provide the last four digits of his or her Social Security number, the date of birth, a voter registration card or a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document.
The local board of elections would count the provisional ballot unless it has grounds, including an “impediment evidentiary challenge by a voter,” to believe the declaration to be false, or if the voter made “obviously nonsensical statements.” The board could also decide to not count the ballot if the voter didn’t provide the documents required or if the voter’s last four digits of the Social Security number or birth date did not check out.
Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, one of the authors of the voter ID law, said the action was a logical step to not only shore up election integrity but also to provide “a backstop” to make sure voters don’t slip through the cracks. He said he believed very few people would use that provision.
“South Carolina has a reasonable impediment statute as well,” Lewis said. “In the 2014 election, only 114 people used it. It’s actually less restrictive than ours is.”