SUMTER (WACH) -- Every election is the important, but for one South Carolina voter, voting in this yearâ??s election is a must.
Thatâ??s because itâ??s the last major contest before the stateâ??s new voter ID law takes effect in January 2013.
â??Who knows, heâ??ll probably win the election off my one vote.â??
Raymond Rutherford is all for making his vote count during election seasonsâ?¦ and this time around he was determined to cast his ballot. â??I think this is one of the major elections right here and I think everybody who can vote should get out and vote,â?? said Rutherford.
Rutherford believes his vote may not have counted this year had the stateâ??s new voter ID law taken effect. Heâ??s one of the thousands of people in South Carolina who doesnâ??t have a state issued ID. The oldest of 5 kids, Rutherford was born in 1952 in his grandmotherâ??s Sumter home. He was delivered by a midwife who spelled his first name wrong on his birth certificate. She also listed the wrong last name. Croskey; his momâ??s name, instead of Rutherford: his dadâ??s name.
â??I couldn't get a state ID because of my name on my birth certificate. So Iâ??m glad I ran into Dr. (Belinda) Williams and retired Judge Gray because they're the ones trying to help me get everything straightened out.â??
â??Surprised is an understatement,â?? said Dr. Williams. â??I was and still am astounded that there are so many people just like Mr. Raymond Rutherford.â??
Dr. Williams runs The Family Unit in Sumter. The nonprofit is currently in the process helping about 80 people, who are dealing with situations similar to Rutherfordâ??s, get state issued IDS.
The new voter id law does have a reasonable impediment exemption which allows affected voters to sign an affidavit at a polling place and list the reason they havenâ??t obtained an ID, but Dr. Williams takes issue with that.
â??I find that a violation of that person's civil rights. A violation of that person's privacy to have to be required to suffer substantial burdens of being embarrassed; many people will be turned away, turned off just by the mere fact that they have to put something in writing at the polls,â?? she said.
â??I don't think it's right. I've been voting since I was 18, why should all of sudden now I need a picture; I need id to vote. It seems like all of sudden they're trying to change everything,â?? said Rutherford.
Itâ??s a change thatâ??s happening too quickly in Dr. Williamâ??s opinion. Her organization, The Family Unit is petitioning to the Department of Justice to appeal the voter ID lawâ??s start date from January 2013. Williams says more time is needed to properly educate voters who will be impacted by this law because it takes time to get proper documentation to obtain a state issued ID. She says in many cases, sheâ??s been working with people for more than a year and a half to get their birth certificates corrected, which they need in order to get a proper state issued ID.