(The Center Square) – While some surrounding states have passed election reform legislation since last November’s presidential election, South Carolina has not passed any changes to its election laws.
Several bills, however, have been proposed with a few passing the South Carolina House and a handful more sitting in committees.
An ad hoc subcommittee led by Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, has been charged with handling those measures in the Senate while the House Judiciary Committee also is looking at bills.
Think tank Palmetto Promise released this week its report of 20 suggested changes to South Carolina election laws. The “common-sense reforms,” Senior Fellow Oran Smith said, are based on laws passed in Georgia, Texas and Florida, along with several voting law changes from other states that have gotten less attention.
“If there’s any shadow of a doubt in the minds of the citizens of the state, then measures should be added that are not infringing on the rights of anyone to have access to the ballot,” Smith said. “There’s no reason not to do those simple, non-invasive changes that can provide more confidence.”
Palmetto Promise has suggested decreasing the number of reasons voters can get an absentee ballot, requiring the last four digits of a Social Security number and a date of birth on those ballots, along with a signature and the signature of a witness and identifying information for that witness.
The organization also recommended limiting the number of absentee ballots a person can witness, banning ballot drop boxes, starting absentee ballot verification and counting earlier, including tracking information on absentee ballots and expanding in-person absentee voting up to 14 days before the election.
“Our election-day requirements are strong enough,” Smith said. “The absentee-vote process standards could use strengthening.”
The recommendations also included funding more complete voter roll updates and verifications, including instituting intrastate and interstate cross-checks between other states and counties, along with updates upon death.
“We’re calling for strengthening what we have and bringing more intentionality to the effort,” Smith said.
Smith added that he feels it’s important that South Carolina leads the way on its own election laws and security in its elections.
“We are seeing an attempt by the Democratic leaders of Congress to nationalize election laws,” Smith said. “The state of South Carolina needs to reassert its authority over our statutes rather than allowing Washington-types to supersede our laws.”