Town halls expand Network’s voter ID campaign

The SC Progressive Network is holding a series of community forums titled “Voter ID and the new Jim Crow.” Network Director Brett Bursey will moderate. Each event will include a Q&A session and instructions for activists to work the issue in their community.

The forums will address the moving target of DOJ pre-clearance, and where we should put our efforts to try and stop it. The meeting will recognize photo ID as a symptom of larger problems, and will focus discussion on sharpening a strategy to address The Big Picture.

The Network is planning a statewide summit on Oct. 29 in Columbia to sharpen our focus and efforts. Details and agenda to be posted as they become available.

Call  803-808-3384 or email for details or to schedule a meeting in your area.

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Sept. 12, Florence: 7pm at Poyner Auditorium, 319 South Dargan St.

Sept. 15, Beaufort: 6:30pm at Golden Corral, 122 Robert Smalls Pkwy. or Hwy. 170. Come early if you want to have dinner.

Sept. 20, Charleston: 7pm at ILA Hall, 1142 Morrison Dr.

Sept. 22, Greenville: 7pm at Furman University, Younts Conference Center.

Latest news from Network’s photo ID campaign

On July 8, the SC Progressive Network held a second press conference on the photo ID law to clear up misconceptions repeated by the governor and lawmakers, and to invite the public to submit comments to the US Dept. of Justice, which is reviewing the new law to consider whether it abridges the minority vote.

See more photos from the media event here.

Below is a sample of the media coverage the press conference generated.

Group seeks those impacted by new SC voter ID law

JIM DAVENPORT, Associated Press
July 8, 2011
South Carolina voting rights advocates said Friday they are looking for voters who might not be able to have their votes counted next year under one of the nation’s toughest voter identification laws. The South Carolina Progressive Network is trying to identify some of the nearly 180,000 people who are now registered to vote but who lack the state- or federal-issued photographic identification called for under the new law. Those people would be able to cast provisional ballots, but would have to show the required identification within three days to have their votes counted. Read more:

Critics challenge ‘Voter ID’ plan

The State
When Delores Freelon was born in 1952, her mother could not decide on a name for her. So the space on the birth certificate for a first name was left blank. In the decades since, the incomplete birth certificate did not prevent Freelon from getting her driver’s license and voter registration card in the various states she has lived, including Texas and Louisiana.
But a measure — already passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Nikki Haley — will create new hurdles for Freelon and others to vote. Read more:

Group aims to block voter ID law
Opponents push for rejection by U.S. Justice Dept.

The Post and Courier
COLUMBIA — The S.C. Progressive Network issued a warning Friday to the nearly 25,000 registered voters in the tri-county area without a state-issued photo ID: You could run into trouble the next time you go to the polls. The advocacy organization is urging the U.S. Department of Justice to reject a new South Carolina law that will require all voters to carry a picture ID to cast a ballot in future elections. The state’s Republican leadership pushed for the new law, citing a need to guard against voter fraud even though there has been no substantive proof of widespread voter fraud for years in the state. Read more:

Progressives Push to Stop Implementation of Voter ID Law

Free Times
Five TV cameras, two reporters from The State, one from The Associated Press, a reporter from the Charleston Post & Courier and another from the South Carolina Radio Network, among others, swarmed around a podium in the lobby of the State House July 8, as South Carolina Progressive Network director Brett Bursey warned voters here that they might have trouble casting a ballot under a new state law. It comes during a time of a national pushback against such regulations.

Read more:

SC groups join forces to rally for a moral budget

By Becci Robbins
SC Progressive Network

A growing number of churches, educators, health care providers, grassroots groups and professional organizations will rally in Columbia on Saturday, March 12, at 1pm at the State House to demand that lawmakers “Stop the cuts! Fund a moral budget.” The House begins debate on the budget March 15.

“Budgets are moral documents” said Rev. Brenda Kneece, Executive Minister of the SC Christian Action Council. “A civilized society chooses to do together what individuals or organizations cannot do alone: protect all and provide for the vulnerable.”

While the state’s political leadership says there is no alternative to further cuts to our bare-bones budget, they are ignoring the fact that more equitable cuts could be made through broad and fair reforms to our tax code.

According to the recent report by the Tax Realignment Commission (TRAC), created by the legislature to reform SC tax codes — a report that was quickly shelved — South Carolina imposes one of the country’s lowest individual income tax burdens. An estimated $3.7 billion was left out of the current budget due to sales and service tax exemptions alone.

Rally sponsors hold press conference Feb. 24 in the SC State House.

“Taxes are low in South Carolina, and getting lower,” said Dr. Holley Ulbrich, Distinguished Professor Emerita of Economics at Clemson University and a Senior Scholar at the Strom Thurmond Institute. “South Carolina ranks 47th out of 51 states (including the District of Columbia) in taxes as a percent of income, and 51st in taxes per capita. The 2010 budget per person was at the 1984 level in constant dollars.”

“The problem isn’t money,” said Brett Bursey, Director of the SC Progressive Network. “The problem is a political ideology that’s both anti-government and anti-taxes. Exemptions, deductions and tax credits leave enough money out of the state budget to meet our needs, with some left over for improvements. We have to send a clear message to the legislature that the race to the bottom must end, and revenue must be raised to fund critical services.

“The money is there,” Bursey said. “The political will is not.”

“We are 1,000 percent behind this rally and are urging all state employees to be there,” said SC State Employee’s Association Interim Director Joe Benton. “Further budget cuts will result in more layoffs and furloughs that hurt not only state employees and their families, but the citizens they serve.”

Jackie Hicks, President of the South Carolina Education Association, South Carolina’s oldest and largest professional association of educators, is encouraging her members to rally to protect and defend public education. “For too long, we’ve allowed legislators to shirk their duty to provide adequate, equitable and stable funding for South Carolina’s public schools and the students they serve. Our current funding is totally inadequate for the educational services our students need.”

Rev. Kneece said, “As faithful citizens we are called to come together through budgets and the taxes that fund them to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy (Proverbs 31:8-9, New International Version).”

Over the past two years, the state budget has been cut from $7.9 to $5 billion, making severe cuts to state services. Further cuts, being debated in the legislature, propose more reductions in health care services to nearly 900,000 Medicaid recipients, ending preventative care, AIDs drug programs, aid for needy children; more teacher’s jobs lost, larger classes, higher tuition; the end of SCETV and the Arts Commission – just to name a few of the casualties.

Life will be harder, with fewer opportunities, especially for the 25 percent of our children living in poverty.

Initial Sponsors: SC AFL-CIOSC Christian Action CouncilSC Education Association •  S.C. HIV/AIDS Care Crisis Task Force • SC NAACP •  SC Progressive NetworkSC State Employees AssociationTies That Bind

For more information, see, email or call 803-808-3384.

Calling all SC political junkies

Tired of politics as usual?

Don’t miss the SC Progressive Network’s Conference April 10!

Booker T. Washington Cultural Arts Center
2611 Grant St., Columbia SC

FREE and open to the public!

Join us for the SC Progressive Network’s 14th annual spring conference, beginning with non-partisan policy work and ending with political action. This year, we have candidates from our own ranks running for office. Given these politically charged and challenging times, this promises to be a lively day of talking politics. We need YOU at the table!


11 am: Registration and light lunch (RSVP for lunch required by4/8/10. Pay $10 on site. Please let us know of any dietary restrictions.)

Noon-2:30pm: Progressive Network Education Fund meeting. If your organization is part of the Network’s nonpartisan coalition, your organization has a seat on the board and should be represented. Remember: this is YOUR organization. It is only as strong as you make it.

  • Network Co-chairs Rep. Joe Neal and Donna Dewitt will review our policy struggles and lead a discussion on sharpening our strategy and tactics.
  • Network Director Brett Bursey will lead a workshop on “Corporations and Democracy.”
  • “Jobs With Rights” organizer Ken Riley, President of the Charleston longshoreman’s union will present the campaign’s plan to fight SC’s anti-worker laws.

3-5pm: Progressive Voter Coalition meeting. SC ProVote is a political action committee of individual Network members and allies. ProVote supports candidates, regardless of party, that support our values of a just and inclusive democracy.

  • We’ll hear from candidates seeking our endorsement, target races and refine strategies and tactics.
  • We’ll discuss Progressive Caucus plans for the state Democratic Convention April 24.
  • Political consultants Carey Crantford and Wil Brown will lead a session on effective messaging of campaigns.

For more information or to RSVP for lunch, call 803-808-3384 or email