Updated: Oct. 20, 3:15PM
The Associated Press put out a story this week showing that South Carolina’s voter I.D. law “appears to be hitting black precincts in the state the hardest.”
One person who really loved the story was Wesley Donehue, the CEO of Donehue Direct and a political strategist for the South Carolina Senate Republican Caucus, who took to Twitter to write that the story “proves EXACTLY why we need Voter ID in SC.”
It wasn’t long until Donehue’s tweet was bouncing all around the progressive twittersphere. In subsequent tweets, Donehue clarified that he wasn’t talking about the fact that the story showed, for example, that “among the state’s 2,134 precincts there are 10 precincts where nearly all of the law’s affect falls on nonwhite voters who don’t have a state-issued driver’s license or ID card, a total of 1,977 voters.”
Rather Donehue said the story “has proven that a bunch of non-South Carolinians are voting in SC elections. Did they vote in other states too?? FRAUD!”
We just chatted with Donehue about the voter ID Twitter flap. He told us that he was involved in planning the strategy to pass the state’s voter ID law.
“If you take that one tweet out of context, of course it makes me look like a racist,” Donehue told TPM (he thanked us for including all of his tweets below). “But if you have any common sense at all and read the entire thing you’ll see what my point is.”
“[The AP’s Jim Davenport] was using that particular box as an example for all black boxes, and I’m saying hold up, wait, this box is different because you’ve got so many out-of-state people, and that’s why they don’t have state IDs,” Donehue said. “Now granted, they can go vote, but that’s not the point. The point is he’s using a college box — whether it be black or white — to use as an example for all black boxes, and that just doesn’t make any sense.”
Donehue said he agreed that voter ID laws would likely suppress voter turnout amongst college students.
“[The AP author] was saying ‘look, half of the people in this box don’t have IDs,’ and I’m just saying that’s not because they’re black, that’s because they’re not from South Carolina,” Donehue said. “Whether they’re students, black, white, it doesn’t matter: you can’t use that specific example.”
Donehue said that college students “will have to prove they live in South Carolina.”
“The argument is that since they live in South Carolina nine months out of the year, they should have a say in what goes on in the state,” Donehue said. “Listen, if that’s true, then become a resident of the state. If you’re going to live here nine months and have a say in what goes on in the state of South Carolina then go become a South Carolina resident and get yourself a South Carolina ID.”
The Justice Department is currently reviewing South Carolina’s voter ID law to determine whether it is discriminatory.
Here’s a full rundown of how Donehue explained himself on Twitter: