For the second day in a row, an MSNBC anchor raised a liberal Democrat's claim that South Carolina's new voter ID law would be "electoral genocide" that disenfranchises thousands of black voters in the Palmetto State.
Daytime anchor Thomas Roberts made note of the alarmist statement by South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Dick Harpootlian in an interview about the photo ID law in the 11 a.m. Eastern hour with Tulane professor and Nation magazine contributor Melissa Harris-Perry.
Neither Roberts nor Harris-Perry objected to the Harpootlian's rhetoric, although in a tweet a short time later Harris-Perry conceded that "genocide is too strong a term." [video follows page break]
Roberts's interview was a complete one-sided softball interview focused on how Democrats can combat the law, which was passed in May but awaits approval by the federal Department of Justice. What's more, Roberts let slide two significant factual errors posed by Harris-Perry: 1) that an ID card costs money and hence would be a form of poll tax and 2) that voters who lack a proper ID will be kept from voting.
In fact, South Carolina voter ID cards are free to citizens over the age of 17. What's more, South Carolina devoted significant resources this year to setting apart a State Identification Card Day during which DMV officials gave free rides to poor South Carolinians to the DMV to secure a photo ID card.
In other words, the state is using taxpayer resources to help citizens get photo IDs, contrary to Harris-Perry's gripe that "in a democracy, we want to help people who have the hardest time, not make it even harder [to vote]."
I pointed this out to Harris-Perry in a tweet following the segment, to which she tweeted back that she "should've been clearer. It costs in a # of ways: opportunity costs, transportation etc."
As to the second error, no one will be turned away from the polls next November on Election Day in South Carolina for lack of photo ID. They'll just be given a provisional ballot which will only be counted if they can later establish their identity to their county board of elections.
If the elector cannot produce identification, he may cast a provisional ballot that is counted only if the elector brings a valid and current photograph identification to the county board of registration and elections before certification of the election by the county board of canvassers.
South Carolina plans to certify election results eight four days after the 2012 general election, leaving voters who cast provisional ballots a few days to get a photo ID after the fact, satisfy the identity requirement at the county level, and hence get their vote counted.