SC State Election Commission says they are ready if absentee voting expansion bill is signed into law

Updated: Sep. 3, 2020 at 8:26 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A bill that would allow any registered voter in the state to vote absentee for the November general election is on track to pass later this month.

Election officials around the state are already preparing for a lot of absentee ballots in November. They said if lawmakers make changes later this month they’ll be ready.

The League of Women Voters of South Carolina said the bill passed by senators Wednesday is a “mixed bag” in their eyes. They are grateful that lawmakers are taking steps to expand absentee voters to everybody. Lynn Teague said they also appreciate enhanced voter education efforts.

“Another very good thing in it is the instruction to the State Election Commission to develop a very aggressive public education program on how the voting is going to work,” Teague said.

Teague added they are worried about the provision that would not allow the use of ballot drop boxes. Right now, they are allowed in South Carolina at county election offices and have been used for elections in the state before. If the bill passes the House as is, you would have to hand your absentee ballot to somebody at your local election office. Senate Republicans said this would increase election security.

“We think that measure and some of the rest is really about misinformation about election security and disinformation about election security,” Teague said.

Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Shane Massey (R-Edgefield) said he was aware of law enforcement investigating three cases of voter fraud.

Agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) have three active investigations regarding absentee voter fraud, a spokesman confirmed Thursday.

The House is expected to take up the bill on September 15. Teague said she is hopeful changes are made to allow drop boxes and to remove the witness signature requirement for absentee ballots.

The South Carolina State Election Commission shared this statement with us about the bill. They wrote: “The SEC is reviewing and analyzing the bill passed yesterday by the State Senate in preparation for whatever final changes may be enacted after the State House of Representatives returns on September 15th and the Governor signs the legislation into law. If and when any changes become law, the SEC stands ready to implement the changes and to work to educate voters on how to make sure their votes count in the 2020 General Election.”

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