Voting in the Pandemic: We Need Action!
The Director of the State Election Commission (SEC) and the officers of the South Carolina Association of Registration and Election Officials, Inc., (SCARE) have written to the Governor and General Assembly leadership urging procedural changes to ensure orderly and safe elections. The League of Women Voters of South Carolina has written to those leaders in support of their proposed changes. So far, nothing has been done beyond an inadequate emergency budget appropriation.
Election officials agree that postponing elections is not the best answer. The safest solution is universal voting by mail. Our county election officials have spoken through SCARE in favor of putting this into place on an emergency basis for South Carolina. Some partisans resist this because they believe, falsely, that the process favors one party or another. However, a major research study from Stanford University has shown that voting by mail does NOT bias results for one or the other major party. It simply protects the health of the public.
Other options that would reduce election dangers include no excuse early voting and expanded absentee voting. Allowing voters to access both voting by mail and early in-person voting over an expanded time frame would reduce election day crowds at polling places.
Another change is badly needed, to expand the time allowed to count absentee ballots. The number requesting absentee ballots could overwhelm county election offices. Legislators must pass S.867. This bill allows an extra day to count absentee ballots before election day. This bill has already passed the Senate. It must move forward in the House with an amendment to allow an even greater expansion of time for absentee vote counts during the pandemic.
What can you do?
- Write the Governor, your Senator, and your House Member and tell them that you urge their immediate action on election changes proposed by state (SEC) and county (SCARE) election officials in their recent letters. Emphasize the importance of voting by mail as the safest option available, and greatly expanded access to absentee voting as an absolute minimum response to COVID-19 dangers. Tell them that S.867 must pass to allow prompt and orderly reporting of election results.
(Use their home addresses – they are currently furloughed and mail to their State House addresses will probably be slow to reach them.)
- Check to see if you are eligible to vote absentee under current criteria, which are listed at. All people over the age of 65 are eligible. Many others are also eligible, for example if you are disabled, care for someone who is sick or disabled, if your work prevents your voting on election day or if you will be out of the county on vacation on election day.
- If you are eligible under any of the 16 legally permitted criteria, request an absentee ballot and choose to vote by mail! Do this as soon as possible to avoid what is likely to be a crushing burden on local election offices nearer the election.
- Encourage others to write their legislators and the Governor, and encourage them to vote absentee if they are eligible.
We can have safe elections in 2020, but doing so will require rapid and effective action from our state leaders! Do your part now!