NathansNews readers may recall years ago how I led the fight to help assure Richland County would not have another fiasco like we saw at many locations – some right here in our community. For the past decade, I’ve been a watchdog working to have your vote count while also not taking hours at the polls.
Whether you are a Republican, Democrat, Independent or whether it’s a local race, state race, or national race – every legal citizen should be able to vote and everyone should be able to know the results were valid and that their ballot that was counted had their choices on it.
Voting in free and fair elections is what sets our American democracy apart and makes our country the greatest in the world. Ensuring that this right is upheld is of utmost importance to my colleagues and me. On Thursday, I signed on to H. 4919, which is a bill that will make it easier to vote while making it harder for fraudulent votes to be cast in South Carolina. Although this bill still has to work its way through the legislative process (where it could be altered), here are some of the protections that the bill proposes:
Currently, ‘in-person’ absentee voting extends up to 45 days before an election. This bill repeals the “in-person” absentee voting system, so all absentee ballots would have to be submitted by mail.
H. 4919 creates 12 days of “early voting” with an acceptable form of ID, just as voting on Election Day. These early voting locations must be “brick and mortar”, and offer every ballot for that particular election – giving every individual a chance to go vote if voting on election day is not possible.
This bill enforces voter ID requirements when voting absentee, just as they are enforced on Election Day. IDs would mirror what is already in South Carolina law: SCDL, state ID card, passport, military ID, voter registration card with a picture.
Every absentee ballot that is submitted must have the signature of a witness. With this, witnesses would be required to print their name beside their signature and provide an address so their identity can be verified.
Absentee envelopes would be opened prior to Election Day so results are available by the close of polls. To safeguard this, any disclosure of any election-related information before the polls close is a felony.
Finally, “Fusion voting” laws would be repealed, meaning a name could appear on the ballot only once. “Fusion voting” allows a candidate to appear on multiple parties’ ballot lines, essentially pooling the votes for them.
I anticipate that a sound and solid bill which safeguards our elections will make its way to the Floor, and I will vote in favor of it when given the opportunity. If you have ideas of ways to improve the bill, please let me know.