SOUTH CAROLINA

 

Candidates

Jamie Harrison for Senator

Joe Cummingham for Representative

Voter Issues

APRIL 2020

• South Carolina: On Wednesday, Democrats filed a lawsuit with South Carolina's Supreme Court to allow anyone to vote absentee by mail this year due to concerns over coronavirus. Civil rights groups shortly thereafter filed a separate lawsuit in federal court seeking to both relax the excuse requirement and eliminate the need for voters to have a witness sign their mail ballot envelope. South Carolina currently requires an excuse to vote absentee for all voters under age 65 and doesn't offer in-person early voting.

• South Carolina: South Carolina's Republican-run legislature met for a one-day session on Wednesday but failed to take up recommendations issued by the state's Election Commission to ensure the June 9 downballot primaries can run properly despite the threat of the coronavirus, such as removing the requirement that voters present an excuse to request an absentee ballot.

 

The House unanimously passed a stopgap funding bill that included $15 million for election safety measures, but the session collapsed after the Senate passed a slightly different bill due to an entirely unrelated dispute over a state-owned utility company.

Republican House Speaker Jay Lucas reacted angrily, calling the Senate's move "a shameless abdication of leadership." The House also declined to pass a resolution specifying when it would return. This failure affects much more than the primary: Because lawmakers have yet to pass a budget for the coming year, that means South Carolina's state government could shut down when current funding runs out on July 1.

• South Carolina: South Carolina's Election Commission has made a number of recommendations to Republican Gov. Henry McMaster and the GOP-run legislature to ensure the state's elections can run properly despite the threat of the coronavirus. Those suggestions include:

  • Removing the excuse requirement to vote absentee

  • Allowing voters to request absentee ballots online

  • Removing the requirement to have witnesses sign absentee ballots

  • Moving to a vote-by-mail system in which every voter would be sent a ballot

  • Allowing early voting for the first time

Lawmakers would have to pass a bill to enact these changes, or to postpone the state's June 9 downballot primaries. However, legislators recently adjourned without taking any action on elections and have not set a date to reconvene, while McMaster has said he will defer to the legislature.

MARCH 2020

• South Carolina: Election officials in South Carolina are weighing whether to implement excuse-free absentee voting and early voting, as well as moving to an all-mail election for the state's June 9 downballot primaries. Any changes would require an executive order by Republican Gov. Henry McMaster or action by the GOP legislature.

JANUARY 2020

• South Carolina: South Carolina's Republican-run state government has agreed to a settlement in a lawsuit brought by the Democratic Party that would end the state's requirement that voters provide their full Social Security number on voter registration forms and instead ask voters only for the last four digits

Plaintiffs had sued last year and argued that requiring the full number potentially intimidated voters by opening them up to the risk of identity theft. They also noted that nearly every other state uses some other identifier. If the federal court where the case was filed approves the settlement, voter registration forms and training instructions for election workers will likely be updated in time for the 2020 elections.

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