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SC Dems Outraged By Changes to Early Voting Bill

April 22, 2009

For Immediate Release
April 22, 2009
Press Contact: Keiana Page (803) 799-7798
Tyler Jones (803) 467-8607

SC Dems Outraged By Changes to Early Voting Bill

Columbia, SC- Next week, SC House members are expected to begin debating a so-called “early voting” bill which instead will remove many of the state’s options for early voting, lengthen lines and cost more for taxpayers. Although the bill calls for early voting in the state, it will place more restrictions on SC voters.

The recently revised early voting bill will repeal in-person absentee voting in the state. It also calls for a mere three-day early voting period before Election Day. The voting bill called for a 12- day early voting period before Republican lawmakers changed the legislation Tuesday night.

The revisions angered a number of House Democrats who advocated for early voting in the state after last year’s historic election.

“Last year’s general election showed many of our lawmakers that South Carolina needs a comprehensive early voting system comparable to those in other states. This bill really misses the mark and needs to be revised again,” said South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Carol Fowler. “It’s clear that Republicans are feeling threatened by the increased number of South Carolinians who are now exercising their right to vote. This bill is just another way Republicans are trying to use their numbers in the South Carolina House to solidify their majority.”

Rep. James Smith, D- Richland said “I believe that House Republicans have attempted to sabotage our earlier bill calling for 12 days of early voting. Instead of giving residents more opportunities to vote, this revised bill places more obstacles in their way.” Smith called the new substitute bill a step backwards. “There’s absolutely no reason for us to stop in-person absentee voting in our state.”

The South Carolina Election Commission endorsed the Democratic bill that passed through the Election Laws Subcommittee earlier this month calling for twelve days of no excuse early voting.

Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, said Republicans have failed to explain why they are trying to restrict early voting. “If we’re really not doing anything to improve our state’s voting system, then there is no point to this bill,” said Rep. Rutherford. “I’ve heard no Republican explanation to why we should eliminate in-person absentee voting but instead cram all voters into three days of chaos. This bill takes the right to vote away from disabled and elderly voters who would normally vote absentee. We need a real early voting period that will make it easier, not harder, for South Carolinians to exercise their right to vote.”

The substitute bill will be brought up on the floor of the House of Representatives next week.

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