Author Of South Carolina Voter ID Law Acknowledges Racist Emails

State Rep. Alan Clemmons (R-SC)

State Rep. Alan Clemmons (R-SC)

During Tuesday night’s Republican Convention, Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) complained that the “hardest part” of her job is “this president” opposing South Carolina’s voter ID law, which would require a photo identification as a prerequisite for voting. But just hours before Haley took the stage, opponents of the measure uncovered new emails revealing that the legislation may have been racially motivated.

South Carolina is suing the Justice Department in an effort to reinstate the law — which the administration struck down for violating the Voting Rights Act — even though state officials could not show any examples of actual in-person voter impersonation fraud and have conceded that requiring a photo identification to vote would not actually prevent a determined voter impersonator from voting as someone else.

During Tuesday’s trial, critics who charge that voter ID is designed to disenfranchise minority voters appeared to have scored an important victory when they presented the law’s author state Rep. Alan Clemmons (R), with racist emails he received while drafting the legislation:

Garrard Beeney, who represented the civil rights groups, presented emails sent to and from Clemmons’ personal account between 2009 and 2011, when he was working on the law.

One, from a man named Ed Koziol, used racially charged rhetoric to denounce the idea that poor, black voters might lack transportation or other resources necessary to obtain photo ID. If the legislature offered a reward for identification cards, “it would be like a swarm of bees going after a watermelon,” Koziol wrote.

Beeney asked Clemmons how he had replied to this email. Clemmons hesitated a moment before answering, “It was a poorly considered response when I said, ‘Amen, Ed, thank you for your support.’”

Clemmons also claimed that he did not a remember giving out packets of peanuts with cards that said “Stop Obama’s nutty agenda and support voter ID,” but Beeney asserted that the lawmaker had testified in June that he had done so.