South Carolina is one of 18 states where voters are not allowed to cast an early ballot in person without an excuse. Many Palmetto State voters, however, do so anyway by voting absentee. And while the thousands of residents voting early without a real excuse might technically be breaking the law, state elections officials have largely looked the other way because so many are doing it. Attempts to allow early voting in the state have been fought here for years — and failed with Republican opposition. But recent county elections failures have seared images of long, snaking lines at the polls and anecdotes from friends and neighbors of Election Day horror stories into the minds of large chunks of the electorate.
Richland County is the most recent, but there have been problems in others as well, such as coastal Horry County, says Bamberg County Democratic Rep. Bakari Sellers.
He sits on a subcommittee that deals with election laws, and he’s pre-filed an early voting bill in the House this year.
In the Senate, a pre-filed bill to create early voting has 18 sponsors consisting of the entire Senate Democratic Caucus. No Republicans are on the bill so far.
Sellers isn’t certain a measure this year will get enough traction in the GOP-controlled General Assembly to pass.
“It’s still a difficult concept for South Carolina Republicans to comprehend and understand,” he says about early voting. “Which is somewhat of a tragedy because of the fact that their inability to just think outside the box has placed us behind North Carolina and Georgia.”