Nikki Haley Signs New Voter ID Measure Into Law

5:21 PM, May 18, 2011   |    comments
Gov. Nikki Haley signs the new voter id measure into law on May 18, 2011.
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Governor Nikki Haley signed a controversial voter identification bill into law Wednesday afternoon.

Haley signed the document in the State House lobby alongside lawmakers who helped pass the measure.

The law requires voters to show a state issued id when they go to the polls.

Voter ID had been proposed in previous years, but it was always defeated before gaining approval in both chambers.

The governor called the passing of the bill time for a celebration.

"It's another great celebration in South Carolina," Haley said. "Hats off to the people. This was another example of legislators having a good idea and the people carrying it forward saying we want it to happen and we want it to happen this year and you see the product of it.

"When you go to vote nobody else can steal your id. No one else can vote for you. You are going to be able to vote by proving that. It maintains the integrity of the process. This is a win win.  This is something all the other states are looking at South Carolina and saying looking what they did and how do we get that done?"

Supporters of voter id said it protects the voting system and keeps people from pretending to be someone they're not.

After the bill signing, opponents gathered, saying the bill infringes on the rights of poor voters who may not have the money to go through the process of getting an id. One problem they say people encounter is getting birth certificates.

"One woman in Sumter delivered by a midwife her birth certificate said baby girl," said Brett Burney of the South Carolina Progressive Network. "She's going to have to go to court to get a name change. The initial fee for a lawyer as a retainer is $750."

The state would issue free ids, but it does require birth certificates to get that id.

Some opponents also objected to the celebratory tone of Wednesday's event. When Haley walked out to sign the bill, "I Got a Feelin," a song by hip-hop group "The Black Eyed Peas" was playing over a speaker system.

"It's a very sad day," said Representative Bakari Sellers (D-Bamber County). "It's almost, it's not almost - it is embarrassing. When your governor comes out to the chants of its going to be a very good day by the Black Eyed Peas and we think about all those disenfranchised by this legislation."

The U.S. Justice Department must still sign off on the bill. Two other states, Georgia and Indiana, currently have similar voter id laws.

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