The debate over whether or not a person should be allowed to cut a certain tree in their yard has gotten twisted into a debate over how old a tree might be and how slow or fast it grows.
The fact is that people on the Waccamaw Neck are fed up with the incremental taking of our private property rights. We are fed up with small groups of people usurping these rights and speaking as tho they have the support of the majority of landowners on the Neck. The live oak issue just happened to be the defining issue.
When it comes to the taking of our rights, The League of Women Voters, The Coastal Conservation League, The Waccamaw Neck Council of Property Owners Associations and Preserve Murrells Inlet have gone relatively unchallenged for too long.
It was through a loosely organized campaign that enough people spoke out in favor of the preservation of our private property rights over that of a tree, that the ordinance “tweak” was stopped. If we do not stand up for ourselves, there are large numbers of very small, well-organized groups that will chip away at these important rights. We have to have a voice in government. While we average citizens are busy making a living and raising families, these small groups of mostly well-off retirees are busy contacting politicians and reshaping our government to suit their narrow-minded objectives.
There is no need for another law protecting live oak trees. Laws already on the books in Georgetown County protect live oaks and many other species of hardwood. The existing Tree Ordinance is quite extensive. The law of common sense protects live oak trees. No one is going to cut a live oak unless it needs to be removed for some reason deemed to be important by the owner of the tree.
The real issue here is the value of Private Property Rights. When it looked as though the change was going to pass, a member of one of these groups was quoted in an article as saying that, “… this is a good start.” This was a most important and telling statement. It is not about a live oak tree. It is about all trees everywhere, all feral cats, all birds, all deer, all development and on and on. It is a good start — down a slippery slope — and we said it ends here.
If you support any of these groups, or if you are a member of a POA in Pawleys, Litchfield or Murrells Inlet, please be aware of what your group is about. I don’t believe for a minute that if a vote was taken today that members of POAs in these areas would vote in favor of their POA taking such a stand. I really don’t think that most POA members are aware of this Council that they support and is speaking for them. It is similar to a union taking your money and supporting a candidate that the leadership picks.
There is a movement to formally organize a large reactive group of voters who will speak out in favor of these rights. Not a bunch of banner-waving, hat-wearing fanatics handing out pamphlets on the corner, but a group of responsible and respected citizens who vote and will contact their representatives. You will be hearing more about it very soon because, trust me, they haven’t gone away, they are simply regrouping for the next attack.
There was an interesting article in Friday's Georgetown Times titled, “Dead voters becoming problem.” Our Attorney General was quoted as stating that research revealed that over nine hundred deceased people appear to have voted in recent elections in South Carolina. It is further stated in the article that there can be times when dead people vote, but it is not believed that there was intentional fraud.(?)
The Voter ID law in our state requires a photo identification before casting a ballot. There are legitimate arguments against this, but it would seem that our citizens would have adequate time within the next ten months until the general election to obtain the necessary documentation. According to the article, necessary identification can be obtained free of charge at the DMV. Also, I would think that free transportation would be available.
R. J. Ferdon
Dead people voting
Too much is being made of dead people supposedly voting in South Carolina.
Kevin Schwedo the director of the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles has found 37,295 cases in which individuals who voted were listed as dead. He said, of that number, 957 “appear” to have voted in “recent elections.”
We must not forget that there are inherent problems in comparing lists from two different state agencies.
In Michigan in 2005, 132 votes were allegedly cast by deceased voters. A follow-up investigation found that all were from voters who had sent in absentee ballots, but died before Election Day.
In the year 2000 in Georgia 5,412 votes were alleged to have been cast over a period of 20 years by deceased voters. A follow-up study found not a single case of fraud.
A 2007 investigation of about 100 "dead voters" in Missouri revealed that every purported case was a matching error, a problem in the underlying data, or a clerical error by elections officials or voters who simply checked off the wrong name.
In New Jersey in 2004, 4,755 deceased voters were alleged to have cast ballots. No actual cases of fraud were found.
There are 250,000 eligible voters in South Carolina who don’t have the government-issued photo ID required by the new law. There is no reason to disenfranchise these innocent citizens while we go on a hunt for zombies that may have wandered into polling stations.
Let’s not mince words. The new Voter ID law has a single purpose: to repress the votes of the young, the poor, and people of color. All these are demographic groups that tend to vote Democratic.
Regarding your recent article about “dead voters” becoming a problem, may I bring your attention to an August 8, 1974 letter to the editor to The Georgetown Times.
“In assessing the recent Democratic Primary in Georgetown County one thing becomes clear … it was a pitiful picture of “Democracy in Action.” Violations of election laws were so gross as to border on the ridiculous. Most of the precincts were run honestly, I must say. Those three or four that weren't discredit the entire system, however.”
“Let's get down to specifics. One poll manager left his polling place with the ballot box at 8:15 P. M., apparently headed to election headquarters. It took him exactly one hour to travel less than a mile. Where was he???”
“At least one precinct allowed people to vote who were not even registered. One precinct never marked voters on the poll roster as having voted, which is required by law.”
“In another case EVERY signature was signed by the same person. There were similar violations elsewhere.”
“Lastly, a poll manager stood in the doorway of his precinct handing out marked sample ballots.”
“In those few precincts the percentage of registered voters who “voted” was about twice the county average.”
“Many of the county officials know this is standard practice. Their opinion seems to be that the boat shouldn't be rocked. After all, that ballot box might be stuffed against THEM if they oppose those responsible for election violations.”
“The most important issue is not who is elected but that the people's true choice be the victor. We have a right to an honest election. When are we going to demand it?”
The letter to the editor was signed by the then secretary of the Georgetown County Democratic Party.
Election fraud has occurred in nearly every election not only here but all over our nation. Voter photo ID is one way to help curb this illegal process and we should all have the same thought process as South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, who was quoted in your article.
“No right is more precious than the right to vote and no process is more important in terms of integrity than the election process. Voter fraud cannot be tolerated.”
Paige B. Sawyer, III