CHARLOTTE — S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley wouldn't be a voter, much less governor, if it wasn't for the Voting Rights Act now jeopardized by new requirements to show picture ID when casting a ballot.
That's the view of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who spoke Monday at a handful of impromptu events at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
"I'm astonished Nikki Haley would take such a strong position against easy access to voting when she is a primary beneficiary of the Voting Rights Act,' Jackson told Patch.
The state's first female governor, Haley's parents are Indian immigrants. She was reared as a Sikh, though she converted to Christianity as an adult.
"She's a part of the wave of beneficiaries of the Voting Rights Act," Jackson said after speaking the Massachusetts delegation. "She's a person of color. She couldn't vote if I couldn't vote."
Jackson's hammering on the voter ID issue mirrored similar public comments from a handful of high-profile Democrats. They worry new ID requirements in a handful of states will make it harder for minorities to vote in November.
"The voter ID is the new Civil War battle all over the of nation," Jackson said.
Republicans say the laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud. Haley has said repeatedly that if consumers need IDs to buy certain cough medicine and to fly in an airplane, it's reasonable to require an ID to vote.
Democrats disagree and suggest Republicans have broached the issue in a widespread attempt to keep a significant portion of the Democrat's base — poor and minority voters — from voting to re-elect President Obama.
"These laws were designed to prevent certain groups of voters from participating," said Democratic National Committee Chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.
"I sat on the Judiciary Committee for five years during the Bush Administration and the Bush Justice Department could never find any examples of fraud."
Republicans insist the current voting system is ripe for fraud, though widespread examples have been few. Haley's spokesman did not respond to a Patch request for comment on Jackson's statements.
"I think it’s so clear that it’s a political move," said former S.C. Gov. Dick Riley, a Democrat, speaking on Monday. "Anybody that’s fair-minded about that would say it’s definitely a political move."
Jackson suggests more than 1 million voters could be turned away from the polls or so confused by the new laws that they stay home. It's a fear echoed by South Carolina Democrats.
"I've had constituents who tell me that it's too hard to vote," said State Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg "They now think it's not worth the trouble. So they won't vote and the Republicans have accomplished their mission."
Democrats will begin their national convention on Tuesday in Charlotte. President Obama will accept the nomination on Thursday.