New S.C. voter ID bill draws praise from Republicans, suppression concerns arise among Democrats

New S.C. voter ID bill draws praise from Republicans while suppression concerns arise among Democrats

CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - South Carolina lawmakers are trying to pass a voter ID bill similar to the one recently signed into law in Georgia.

The bill, which is significantly shorter than Georgia’s, would require a photo ID for people who vote absentee by mail.

Representative Russell Fry of Horry County introduced the bill Tuesday. He said it’s about strengthening the integrity and security of elections and feels it simply makes sense.

“We have ID requirements for any number of things, from getting a mortgage to renting a home, to buying a car or a gun or purchasing a lottery ticket, even picking up sport tickets for an event. So it would stand to reason that this is a very small but critical step in making sure that you are who you say you are when you cast that ballot,” Fry said.

Fry noted while S.C. didn’t have widespread fraud during the 2020 presidential election, he believes the state can learn from other states where irregularities were more common.

The bill isn’t popular with everyone though.

Horry County Democratic Party Chair Alester Pryor said the bill is a form of voter suppression.

“I don’t have an issue regarding a photo ID,” she said. “I think it’s cumbersome, the law, but I don’t really have an issue with it. Personally, I think the party that’s bringing this bill up is using it as a means to suppress the vote, and that concerns me.”

Pryor believes it will restrict access to some.

“I believe it’s just about a matter of suppressing the vote, and what concerns me is there are a lot of seniors that don’t have IDs, and a lot of those seniors are Republicans, so what they’re doing is it seems like they’re cutting off their nose to spite their face,” Pryor said.

Fry said the bill is not about suppressing the vote.

“When South Carolina and other states went to and did voter ID, we said that if you don’t have an ID, we’re going to give you one, and the claim was that it was going to have a chilling effect on people’s access to the polls and the right to vote. That has not been the case,” he said.

Major League Baseball decided to move its all-star game from Atlanta to Denver as a response to Georgia passing its voter ID bill. Fry said he’s not too concerned about the potential for businesses to leave South Carolina as a result of this bill.

“I think the backlash against MLB in doing that is even greater than the pressure for them to leave Georgia,” Fry said. “So I think that there’s kind of a sentiment that sports teams and businesses should engage in business.”

The bill currently has more than 60 co-sponsors in the Statehouse.

It was referred to the House Judiciary Committee after it was introduced.

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