September 16, 2020 at 11:10 am #6079Richard MoniuszkoParticipant
Absentee voting set to expand during pandemic; SC lawmakers reject other election changes
By Jamie Lovegrove firstname.lastname@example.org
Sep 15, 2020
COLUMBIA — All registered voters in South Carolina will be able to cast absentee ballots in the November election due to the coronavirus pandemic under changes approved by state lawmakers Tuesday, but the Republican majority rejected other proposals recommended by election officials.
Under ordinary rules in South Carolina, voters are required to cite one of several possible reasons to cast an absentee ballot, including being 65 or older, having a physical disability, work requirements or being out of town on Election Day.
The change approved Tuesday by the S.C. House will let any voter cast absentee a ballot if there is a “state of emergency” in their area, which currently covers the entire state due to the pandemic. The measure, which passed the Senate earlier this month, only applies to the 2020 general election.
The bill now heads to Republican Gov. Henry McMaster’s desk for his signature. McMaster’s spokesman Brian Symmes confirmed the governor will sign it into law when it is ratified, saying the measure “strikes a good balance between protecting South Carolinians and the integrity of the voting process.”
Though lawmakers almost unanimously approved the overall bill, agreeing on the value of expanding absentee voting, they bickered extensively over other provisions that Democrats argued would make it easier for people to cast their ballots but Republicans alleged would expose the state to potential voter fraud.
A majority of members voted mostly along party lines against amendments that would have removed a witness signature requirement for absentee ballots and allowed voters to deposit their ballots in drop boxes near their county election offices.
Lawsuits are still pending in federal and state courts that could reverse those decisions in advance of the general election.
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