By David Purtell
Edited by Brett Weisband
The State Election Commission on Tuesday raised its estimate of how many South Carolina voters don't have required picture IDs by almost 40,000.
The new estimate came after state Motor Vehicle Director Kevin Shwedo said two dozen people who needed photo IDs to vote were scheduled to get rides from state workers so they can comply with South Carolina's new voter ID law.
Republican Gov. Nikki Haley's administration had said it would provide Wednesday's rides after opponents – most of them Democrats – said the law would disenfranchise many of those voters without state-issued IDs.
The election commission had originally estimated 178,000 South Carolinians did not have the required photo IDs to vote. But that now is 216,596, commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said. The updated information will be sent to the U.S. Justice Department, which is reviewing the voter ID law, he said.
Wednesday's rides will be to and from DMV offices so people can get a free ID card. They will then use that photo ID to vote.
However, many of those without driver's licenses don't have the birth certificate needed to get the proper ID, the law's opponent's say.
The law, which Republicans say will prevent voter fraud, requires people to show a photo ID at the polls.
Shwedo told the governor's Cabinet meeting that 45 people had originally scheduled rides, but then 20 found a misplaced photo ID or decided to visit a DMV office sooner. Later in the day, the DMV lowered the number to 24 needing rides and said they would be driven to 20 offices around the state.
"Whether it was 25 or 2,500, we were prepared" to handle all requests for rides, Haley said.
Just because people aren't getting a ride doesn't mean they didn't get help; the DMV's call center was able to point people to the right agency or answer their questions, the governor said.
Most of the 675 calls to the DMV's toll-free number were questions about which documents they needed to show in order to get the ID, the agency said.
S.C. Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian said the issue is not the number of people who needed a ride, but those who can't get the right documents in order to get a photo ID.
He called it, "pure partisan politics on the part of the governor."
Shortly after Haley's initial announcement of the rides, disabled rights activists were upset that the DMV would not be able to accommodate people with disabilities. All callers with disabilities who asked for a ride will get one, Shwedo said. He did not know the exact number of people with disabilities that had called.
Shwedo did not know how much the rides would cost the state.
"The only thing we had to pay for is the number we set up and the gas," he said.
Haley also announced at the meeting she wants all state departments to start auditing their cell phone usage, state vehicle usage and Internet usage to cut costs.
She also told state departments to begin answering phone calls with the greeting, "It's a great day in South Carolina. How can I help you?" She said this would create a positive atmosphere in the workplace and for callers.