As outlined in a Foundry post last week, the Justice Department’s objection to South Carolina’s new voter ID law is not based on the facts or the applicable law. Contrary to the Justice Department’s claims, the law is neither discriminatory nor a burden for voters, who can obtain a free ID if they don’t already have one. And the data show that almost 99 percent of registered voters in South Carolina already have a driver’s license or photo ID issued by the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
If the Justice Department believes this requirement is discriminatory, then it obviously should file suit against itself over the federal government’s ID requirements for Medicaid and other social service benefits. According to the South Carolina Department of Social Services, which administers these federal programs, federal law requires that new Medicaid enrollees as well as those completing their annual eligibility review “provide proof of citizenship, nationality and identity.”
One of three documents can be used to satisfy this federal requirement: (1) a U.S. passport; (2) a Certificate of Naturalization; or (3) a Certificate of U.S. Citizenship. Applicants lacking one of these documents can satisfy the requirement by showing other documents such as a birth certificate, adoption decrees, etc. along with a picture ID such as a driver’s license, an ID card issued by the federal, state, or local government (like a passport), or a military ID—all documents acceptable under South Carolina’s voter ID law. South Carolinians applying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) also have to provide proof of identity and address such as a “driver’s license, picture ID, birth certificate, or other proof of your identity and current address.”
South Carolina’s voter ID requirement is easier to meet than these more complex federal requirements (and the feds don’t provide you with a free ID or an affidavit exemption).
So the Justice Department is taking the totally untenable and unjustified position that the same type of ID requirements imposed by the federal government on poor people to obtain Medicaid, food stamps, and other such benefits are somehow a violation of federal law when they are applied by a state to the voting process. Of course, that is a ridiculous claim, and the same security concerns about preventing welfare fraud, which lead the federal government to require ID from applicants, also apply to preventing voter fraud. If anything, welfare fraud is less problematic, because while a welfare cheat is stealing taxpayer dollars, he can’t overturn the results of an election.
This is just more evidence of the hypocrisy of this Administration.