SC election officials considering changes for state primary in June

South Carolina News

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – In less than three months South Carolina voters will head to the polls for the June primary… or will they?

That’s what lawmakers and the South Carolina Election Commission are trying to figure out after the coronavirus creates concerns about public spaces.

The South Carolina Election Commission is now reviewing alternative options for this summer’s primary after emergency declarations and stay at home orders have created concerns about voters piling up in polling locations

All of the seats in the South Carolina State House are up for grabs this year.

The general election takes place in November but the primary to narrow down those selections will be held in June. However, with the full impact of the coronavirus still unknown, how that June primary will look is also up in the air.

“It requires a large amount of people to gather in the same place,” said Chris Whitmire with the SC Election Commission. “That’s what public health officials are telling us not to do and many of our poll managers fall in those high-risk categories.”

The South Carolina Election Commission sent a letter to Governor Henry McMaster outlining potential options:

  • Early voting spreads voter crowds out over a period of a few weeks
  • Voting by mail requires every voter cast their ballot by mail
  • No excuse absentee voting expands who can vote absentee

“There are only 18 reasons that qualify a voter to vote absentee and a health pandemic is not one of them,” said Whitmire. “So, everyone is not covered by that.”

The Election Commission does not have emergency powers so the governor would have to issue an order allowing one of those options. They are also for the passage of a bill allowing poll workers to open absentee ballots before the election.

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