Gov. Nikki Haley: Voter ID Laws ‘Not Racist’

Melanie Arter | September 3, 2015 | 11:08am EDT
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South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley

( – In a speech at the National Press Club on Wednesday, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said voter ID laws are not racist and that states should “figure out ways to make it easy and cost-free for every eligible voter to obtain a photo ID.”

“Requiring people to show a photo ID before they vote is a reasonable measure. It is not racist,” said Haley. “If everyone was willing to stop shouting and stop trying to score race-baiting political points, we could reach common ground. I want everyone who is eligible to vote, to vote.”

When Haley spoke about the Charleston church shooting, she described how Rev. Al Sharpton spoke at one of the funerals for the victims and criticized Haley, saying that the only time Haley would have seen him was through her office window when he was outside leading a protest.

When it was Haley’s turn to speak, she said, she addressed Sharpton and said, “If you were protesting outside of my office, and if you would have come inside and held out your hand, I would have hugged you.”

“Communication has to flow both ways. One of the lessons of the flag controversy is that we stop shouting and we start listening. We get more accomplished. We should all listen to each other more. We will all benefit from walking in each other’s shoes,” she said.

Haley cited voter ID laws as “a good example” of how everyone can “benefit from walking in each other’s shoes.”

“A good example in the civil rights arena is in voter ID laws. There are those who act as if any effort whatsoever to maintain the integrity of the voting process is a racist attack against civil rights. Well that’s just not true. Requiring people to show a photo ID before they vote is a reasonable measure,” Haley said in a speech on economic and social changes in the South.

Haley said she also met Rev. Jesse Jackson at the shooting victims’ funerals, and she considers him a friend.

“I now count Rev. Jesse Jackson as a friend. I got to know him through the funerals. He’s a native South Carolinian, who has done some amazing things with his career with voter registration. I will say this: Any time Rev. Jackson wants to do a voter registration drive in South Carolina, I will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with him. I want to make it easy for everyone who is rightfully eligible to vote to do so,” she said.

As for the idea of requiring a picture ID to vote, Haley said her state has made it easy for the poor to obtain photo IDs by offering rides to any citizen throughout the state to their local Department of Motor Vehicles. There, the eligible voter can obtain a photo ID for free, she said.

“For most people, showing a picture ID is no burden, but I recognize that for some, it is a burden, and those are disproportionately poor, elderly or disabled, which is why South Carolina, we offered rides to any citizen, anywhere in the state, to get to their local DMV and get a free picture ID,” Haley said.

“So let’s not throw out voter ID laws. The integrity of our democracy is too important for that, but let’s figure out ways to make it easy and cost-free for every eligible voter to obtain a photo ID. That way, everyone who wants to vote can vote,” she added.

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