Tuesday, April 29, 2008

SD voter ID law stands

SD voter ID law stands

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - A South Dakota law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls probably was safe no matter how the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case from Indiana, Secretary of State Chris Nelson said.

The nation's high court, in a 6-3 ruling Monday, said states can require a photo ID without violating a voter's constitutional rights.

Nelson said he didn't think South Dakota's law would have been overturned had the Supreme Court ruled otherwise.

"Our law is different and distinct from Indiana in that ours contains a provision allowing people without a photo ID to sign a personal identification affidavit in lieu of showing an ID," Nelson said. "Indiana didn't have that and it's considered to be a more strict photo identification law than South Dakota has."

In South Dakota, a driver's license, passport or identification card from American Indian tribes, colleges, technical schools and federal agencies is accepted.

Anyone without a photo ID could still vote by signing an affidavit affirming their identity. They can face a perjury charge for giving false information.

Nelson acknowledged there were some problems early on in educating voters and election workers about the 2003 law and the affidavit provision.

"We've gotten along pretty well since then. We've seen the percentage of people with a photo ID increase in the last couple of general elections as people get used to it. In the last general election, 98 percent had a photo ID with them and were ready to show it."

Nelson said he supports the law, which was proposed to the Legislature by individual lawmakers and not by his office.

"It is one of those mechanisms to make sure we maintain the integrity of the election process," Nelson said.

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