RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - Many voters are worried about the safety of heading to the polls this November, and some are also concerned about lost or delayed ballots due to the current strain on the United States Postal Service.
Congressman James Clyburn visited the Eastover Post Office Tuesday afternoon to discuss efforts to make absentee voting more accessible.
Right now, to request an absentee ballot, you must have a valid reason, like your age or job. The pandemic isn’t an excuse, but Clyburn and some Republican leaders want to see it added to that list, just as it was for the June primaries so everyone can vote absentee.
“I don’t understand why we just can’t make it convenient for people to vote,” said Clyburn.
He believes the strain on the U.S. Postal Service should warrant South Carolina adding ballot drop boxes, where voters can deposit their absentee ballots to be collected by election officials.
“We ought to have ballot boxes in Eastover, Hopkins, put them near every post office,” Clyburn explained.
Minnie Green, who lives in Gadsden and serves as a poll worker, said the June primaries proved many South Carolina votes will be lost if the state doesn’t take extra steps this election.
“A lot of elderly people received their absentee ballots late, so they brought their ballots to the polling place, which we can’t accept it,” said Green, “and then you’re asking them to take it 23 miles to 2020 Hampton Street, and that’s a lot to ask of elderly folks.”
Republican State House Representative Gary Clary supports the drop boxes and also wants to remove the witness requirement for absentee ballot returns. He believes voting accessibility should be a bipartisan issue.
“If you don’t want people to vote, then you are in favor of voter suppression, and that’s something that I’m not in favor of. I believe in the fact that my party is a big tent party, and that we need to get as many people to vote as we can,” said Clary.
Right now, South Carolinians have three options for voting. You can go to the polls on Election Day, you can vote absentee in-person, or you can vote absentee by mail. You can request an absentee ballot now through SCVotes.com or by calling your voter registration office.
Absentee voting opens October 5, and election officials suggest you cast your absentee ballot early. With the number of expected absentee ballots at an all-time high, both leaders believe ballots need to be processed sooner.