FILE - South Carolina Senate President Harvey Peeler

South Carolina Senate President Harvey Peeler

(The Center Square) – With November's election fewer than 90 days away, South Carolina Senate President Harvey Peeler announced Monday he will call the Senate back to Columbia on Sept. 2 to consider COVID-19 election responses.

The state Legislature was set to reconvene Sept. 15 after ending its regular session in May.

“If the COVID-19 pandemic is still prevalent in our state, the Senate must make plans to protect the voter and the vote,” Peeler, R-Cherokee, said in a statement. “We don’t know what the situation will be like in November, but we need to prepare for safe and secure voting.

“In May, the General Assembly addressed these issues for the primary elections in record time by working together in a bipartisan manner,” Peeler added, “I am hopeful we can do it again and return later in September to address the remaining legislative business.”

State Election Commission Executive Director Marcia Andino sent a letter last month to several lawmakers, urging several emergency changes for the November election, including allowing all South Carolinians to vote absentee and for more time to process absentee ballots. Vote-by-mail participation increased by 370 percent in the June primary, the letter said.

Senate Minority Leader Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington, wrote a letter to Peeler last month asking him to reconvene the Senate to consider election measures, and promising bipartisan cooperation.

“Voting is not a partisan issue. It is both a privilege and a responsibility for every South Carolinian no matter their political party affiliation,” Setzler wrote in the letter. “The Senate has addressed each pandemic related issue that has been before us in bipartisanship, moving quickly to meet the challenge that has been before us. I think the changes we need to address about voting during the pandemic will be no different.”

Staff Reporter

Vivian Jones reports on Tennessee and South Carolina for The Center Square. Her writing has appeared in the Detroit News, The Hill, and publications of The Heartland Institute.