Conway Belangia Answers Questions for Taxpayers

Conway-BelangiaConway Belangia, Director of Elections for Greenville County for the past 19 years, was a guest speaker at the July meeting of the Greenville County Taxpayers’ Association.

Belangia sees his primary mission to be insuring elections are fair. The hottest current topic is the new state law that requires voters to present a photo ID in addition to a registration card prior to being allowed to cast a ballot.

Republicans believe the requirement is necessary to ensure only people eligible to vote in a particular precinct are who they say they are. Democrats claim the law discriminates against the elderly and others who do not have a drivers license or a photo ID card issued by the Highway Department.

“The Voter ID Law is not a major change for South Carolina,” Belangia said. “It is for some states. Georgia has had an ID process in place for a couple of years.”

Belangia said requirement of a photo ID “is a national  movement by the national Republican Party.” Under the South Carolina law, “no one may use just a voter registration card for voting purposes.

“Now keep in mind, this is not in effect yet. It is before the department of Justice and, until they approve it, it can’t be enforced in South Carolina.”

Belangia admitted that there are groups out there trying to get the Justice Department to disapprove the South Carolina Plan.

Georgia’s law is stricter than the one passed in South Carolina, but it was approved by the Bush Justice Department, and the SC law must be approved by the Obama Justice Department, Belangia acknowledged that politics may have a role in the decision at the Justice Department. He said their decision should be made in about 50 days. Appeals to the Justice Department decisions go to the Federal District Court  in Washington, D. C.

All states are not under the heel of the Justice Department. Belangia said all states that went for Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election against Lyndon Johnson have been required to have all their laws and changes pertaining to elections reviewed and approved by the Justice Department for the past 50 years.

All the changes in voting district lines in response to the census and reapportionment must also be approved by the Justice Department.

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Mike Scruggs