SC Senators hold special session to address election laws as absentee ballot demand soars

VIDEO: LIVE 5 ALERT DESK: Officials call for law changes

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina Senators say they are meeting in Columbia for a one-day special session to address election laws as the number of absentee ballot requests reach record numbers.

The South Carolina Association of Registration and Election Officials (SCARE) says they sent a letter to Governor McMaster and state lawmakers on July 28 to recommend changes for the November election due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. SCARE says their letter included the following recommendations:

  1. No Excuse Absentee Voting
  2. Remove the witness signature requirement
  3. Allow counties to process ballots beginning the Friday before the election
  4. Allow for the use of absentee ballot drop boxes

SCARE Legislative Chair Isaac Cramer also works with the Charleston County Board of Elections. Cramer says he hopes lawmakers will allow election officials to start opening and counting absentee ballots prior to election day. If they don’t, he says it could be days before we know the results of the election.

Nine weeks before election day, Cramer says counties around the Lowcountry are seeing a record number of requests for mail-in absentee ballots. Charleston County says they have received 48,600 requests, while 35,000 applications have already been returned. Dorchester County Elections Director Todd Billman says his county has received almost 9,700 requests and 5,700 have already been returned. He says he expects the county to reach 7,500 by October. Representatives from Berkeley County say they have received more than 15,000 requests and almost 9,700 applications have been returned.

The South Carolina House of Representatives is expected to take up voting issues when they return on September 15.

Copyright 2020 WCSC. All rights reserved.