Clyburn: Combat Voter ID Law by Organizing
Voter ID opponents plan to prepare now for the possibility the courts will allow the law to stand
U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) told Democratic activists in the Charleston area on Tuesday that organization was the key to limiting the effects of "voter supression" efforts under way through Voter ID laws.
Clyburn told local Democrats to approach the election as if South Carolina's Voter ID law, currently winding its way through the court system after the justice department raised concerns, was already in place.
The congressman said Republicans hoped that, by putting Voter ID laws in place in nine states, a national election can be swayed by lowering turnout by 1 percent in each state.
"I know nothing has changed yet," he said. "But I just do not trust the judiciary that we're operating under."
Tuesday's gathering, held at the International Longshoremen's Association Hall on Morrison Drive, was held to strategize for the November elections.
While the U.S. Department of Justice rejected South Carolina's Voter ID law before it took effect, the state appealed and the case has been expedited with a decision expected in September.
Clyburn appeared as a guest speaker ahead of a panel discussion on the law's potential effects and methods to limit the number of people that will be affected by it.
The DOJ found that more than 230,000 currently registered South Carolina voters do not have the necessary photo identification required by the law, and it found that non-white voters are 20 percent more likely to lack a state issued photo ID.
The pannel included Rev. Joseph Darby, pastor of Morris Brown A.M.E. Church; state Rep. David Mack; Susan Dunn, legal director of Charleston’s ACLU; Dorothy Scott, chair of the Charleston County NAACP; and Julie Hussey, president of the League of Women Voters’ Charleston chapter.
The message from all the pannelists was to get organized now.
"We all need to be concerned about the right to vote," Dunn said. "We need to be out there registering people, everybody in your church, everybody in your book club, everybody you go grocery shopping with; get them registered, because there have been no changes to the requirements for registration."
Dunn added that there will be a lot of scrambling in September when the case is decided, and it is better to prepare now under the assumption the court will uphold the law than to try to play catch up later if it does.
Darby said his church is working with other area churches to hold voter registration drives and to get people to the polls on election day.
"The truth will make you free," Darby said. "And the truth is South Carolina needs laws to prevent voter fraud like an Eskimo needs a bikini. You don't fix what's not broken."
"Democracy is not a spectator sport," Hussey said. "The assault on voting rights won't stop at the ID."
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