Columbia personal injury attorney Herb Louthian, a partner at Louthian Law Firm, P.A., believes the cost for South Carolina taxpayers to fight the new Voter ID requirement will exceed $1 million. As a board member of Common Cause, Louthian explains that with a high-cost, Washington, DC, attorney being used by the state, as opposed to using existing legal staff on hand for the state’s legal matters, the cost could become excessive.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed the voter ID bill into law in May requiring voters to show photo identification to cast ballots in person. Critics see the law as an attempt to keep the poor, who often do not have a state-issued id, from voting.
Under the federal Voting Rights Act, no state can impose a “voting qualification or prerequisite to voting” that could be deemed discriminatory. As a result, the South Carolina attorney general’s office must argue before a three-judge panel in U.S. District Court in Washington that the law is meant to prevent fraud and is not an attempt to unfairly restrict residents from voting. Attorney General Wilson decided to bring in an out-of-state attorney. The attorney’s rate is $520-an-hour.
While Louthian is opposed to the more restrictive voter ID bill signed by Governor Haley, he doesn’t question the state’s right to litigate the issue. He does, however, question the need for an expensive DC attorney when the S.C. Attorney General’s office already employs 66 lawyers.
In a Post and Courier article, Louthian asked, “Are we saying nobody on that staff is capable of handling this? Obviously there are plenty of people who can handle it who are already being paid. How can we justify this?.
Others agree that the cost is too high, and that if the state is going to spend that kind of money on voting issues, the money could be better used to update the voting machines.
Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest. One of their primary causes is in protecting the American public’s right to vote.