SC Senate approves expanding absentee voting to all voters; House to discuss later this month

Elections

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA/WBTW) — The South Carolina Senate voted unanimously to expand absentee voting to all voters in the state, but did not waive the witness signature requirement that a federal judge did away with during the primary.

The Senate returned strictly to discuss the November election and how to handle voting during the pandemic.

“We ought not to be listening to politicians but to the medical experts who have been cleared,” Sen. Marlon Kimpson (D) said.

Kimpson was one of several senators to express their concerns with the upcoming presidential election in a special-called session Wednesday afternoon. Absentee voting was expanded to all voters in the June primary because of COVID-19.

State lawmakers are pushing for the same changes in November.

“We need to make sure voters can vote without putting their lives at risk and to do that we have to disperse the crowds so they’re not standing in line,” Sen. Dick Harpootlian (D) said.

During Wednesday’s session, senators discussed once again expanding absentee voting — a proposal that received unanimous support — but suggestions like off-site drop boxes for absentee ballots and waiving the witness signature requirement sparked debate.

“I’m perplexed about this fear of fraud when there hasn’t been a case of fraud in over 20 years,” Harpootlian said. “This is all about discouraging people rather than encouraging people.”

“The fact that Senator Harpootlian says there has been few allegations of fraud is not proof to do away with the anti-fraud protections,” Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey (R) said. “It’s a testament that those things work. We’ve ensured that people get to vote.”

The House will be back on Sept. 15 to review the Senate’s decision.

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