UPDATE: Gov. Henry McMaster (R) has signed the early voting legislation into law, which will be in effect for the state’s primary in June.
UPDATE: On May 11, the South Carolina House and Senate reached a compromise on early voting, with the state Senate agreeing to drop provisions that would empower the state Senate to confirm the governor’s selections for the South Carolina Election Commission (except for the executive director, which will still require a vote from the state Senate). Instead, the legislation allows state lawmakers to add qualifications for members of the commission. The bill received near-unanimous approval in both chambers and now goes to McMaster’s desk for his signature.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On April 20, the South Carolina state Senate passed H. 4919, legislation expanding early voting, with bipartisan, unanimous support. The bill was a compromise between Democratic and Republican lawmakers, including the priorities of both parties. H. 4919 expands early voting at polling places for the two weeks before an election, excluding Sundays. Currently, South Carolina is one of six states that does not offer any in-person voting options before Election Day.
H. 4919 also increases the penalties for voter fraud violations and makes several language changes in the provision outlining who can vote absentee. However, South Carolina still requires a voter to fall within a limited number of categories to vote by absentee ballot. While a version of the bill passed the state House in early March, the state Senate version that was passed yesterday also empowers the Legislature to confirm the governor’s selections for the director and members of the South Carolina Election Commission. The bill now goes to a vote in the state House; if the state House doesn’t accept the state Senate changes, the bill will head to a conference committee to reconcile differences.