Relying on a tip coming out of South Carolina early this am, I reported that there were some concerns that people were having about folks being able to vote at Benedict College, an HBCU. I’d heard that there might have been Tea Party people intimidating voters and also that people who were registered to vote weren’t being allowed to use their student IDs to do so.
So far, we don’t have photos or videos to confirm what may have happened in the am. There is a report that there was “chaos” on site at this precinct in the am.
Here’s what we do know:
It’s SC law that you must have one of the following items to vote on Election Day:
Voter Registration Card
DMV-issued ID Card
You can’t vote with just a student ID in SC which is why some students may have had trouble.
Here’s what the College is saying (From The State):
Kymm Hunter, who is in the communications and marketing department of the school, said that claims of voter intimidation were not true.
Hunter said Benedict students were turned away because their student ID cards did not meet the requirements for voter identification. The school is currently organizing transportation for the students, who did not have their voter ID cards, to go to county offices to get replacement cards. Mayor Steve Benjamin is on the campus assisting with the process.
“I’m trying to speak to the person who put that out there,” said Hunter, who has fielded calls from The Washington Post, The Associated Press and other media outlets including The State.
Kymm Hunter hasn’t reached out to me to my knowledge in any way so that’s just not a totally accurate statement. Also, this seems like an awful lot of trouble to me to cast a vote. Why can’t the students who used their student ID cards just be allowed to vote with alternative IDs such as a driver’s license? Why the busing and being told to go to the main elections office to get voter reg cards? And it’s also interesting that the mayor’s gotten involved. Sounds like a mess to me and kinda like the school has found themselves defending poor protection of students’ ability to vote.
Mother Jones has more information that piques my interest (emphasis mine):
Kim Hunter, a spokeswoman for Benedict College, said that she hadn’t received reports from students about problems at the polls. Hunter explained that students who registered on campus but didn’t have their voter registration cards had to travel to the main elections office. She noted there were two white Republican poll watchers at that polling station but hadn’t heard of any wrongdoing, adding that she planned to follow up with the SC Democratic Party about the allegations.
Now…am I the only person curious as to why a couple of white Republicans would be so interested in being present at the polls on Election Day at an HBCU in what I’m guessing is a mostly black neighborhood? Is that just me who has some questions bout that? Here’s more from the same MoJo update above(emphasis mine):
Tea party activists in South Carolina are allegedly intimidating black college students and other black voters at the polls, according to the South Carolina Democratic Party. Early this morning, self-identified tea party activists showed up at a polling station near Benedict College in Columbia, “basically harassing students—telling people not to vote and generally making voters feel uncomfortable,” says Keiana Page, press secretary for the state Democratic Party, who said that the party’s legal team is currently investigating the reported incident at the historically black college.
A writer for JackandJillPolitics.com, a site run by black bloggers, also said that she had gotten a call this morning from a local resident that tea party activists were harassing students. “They are protesting student votes and making them vote with provisional ballots,” Cheryl Contee reports. “Benedict is one of our proudest HBCUs [Historically Black Colleges and Universities] and these kids don’t deserve this as one of their first experiences voting in America.” Page tells Mother Jones that Benedict College has been “a favorite harassment spot for Republicans in 2006 and 2004,” claiming that Republicans have a history of challenging student voters who registered using their college address. It’s unclear whether any student voters were kept from voting due to the alleged intimidation or how many were forced to fill out provisional ballots.
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