SC senators to discuss updating election laws ahead of November during one-day special session

Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 7:21 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The South Carolina Senate will return to the State House, Wednesday, Sept. 02, for a special one-day session. The senators will be discussing the upcoming November elections and possible voting safety measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The sole purpose of this special session is for senators to determine if there is a need for updates to our election laws ahead of Election Day in November. Updates that will ensure South Carolina voters can vote safely and securely.

Senate President Harvey Peeler has said while we don’t know what the situation will look like in November, for right now, COVID-19 is still a major concern and therefore the Senate needs to plan ahead to make certain voters are safe.

Typically, there’s a list of reasons voters can choose from in order to apply for an absentee ballot. For the June primaries, the pandemic was added to that list of reasons after a bill passed by the General Assembly but the measure only applied to that one election. Wednesday afternoon, SC senators will meet to determine if something like that is necessary again for November.

Midlands voter, Willetta Childs-Jones, says this upcoming election will be her first time voting absentee. She’s able to do so because of her profession as a traveling nurse. Childs-Jones says she’s always gone to the polls, and she did so recently for the June primaries adding that she was impressed with the safety measures in place.

“They had a cup for clean pens. They had their sanitizer. They had their wipes there. Then, they had the dirty pens going into a bag, a Ziplock bag, and they were recycling it,” said Childs-Jones who continued saying, “Then, when we went to vote we got a long, like Q-Tip-type, to punch in on the things and then it was a person standing there disinfecting as we walked away. It’s going to be very different for me because I’m actually going to try this, to do absentee.”

The Lexington County resident believes whether you choose to go in person, or vote absentee, she says all that matters is that you vote.

Childs-Jones tells WIS-TV that she remains active in her community to help others exercise their right to vote and she wants lawmakers, “to keep in mind that the people need to be reassured that their vote matters, that every precaution is being taken, votes will not be tampered, they will not be cast out, they will not be lost. No matter how long it takes, they will be counted. This will be a fair election and our voices are going to be heard.”

During Wednesday’s one-day special session, in addition to discussing expanding absentee voting again for November, legislators will also consider changing the rules so that election officials can begin counting absentee ballots early.

Senate President Peeler praised the actions taken for the June primaries, saying lawmakers addressed these issues in record time and worked together in a bipartisan fashion. He says he’s hoping this will happen again.

Wednesday’s special session is set for noon.

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