Legislation creating a one-week early-voting period in South Carolina sailed through a key state Senate committee Tuesday. “People are used to convenience in their lives,” said Sen. Bradley Hutto of Orangeburg, who is one of 18 Senate Democrats sponsoring the early-voting bill that was considered Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee. “That is why banks have drive-through lanes.” The measure that members of the GOP-controlled panel approved by an 18-2 vote would allow South Carolina voters to start casting ballots 10 days before an election. The early-voting period would end three days before an election. According to the bill’s provisions, each county would open at least one and as many as five early-voting polling places.
Nearly 14 percent of the state’s registered voters cast absentee ballots either in person or by mail in last year’s general election. But these voters first had to give election officials an excuse such as a work conflict in order to vote absentee. The bill that won committee approval on Tuesday would require no such excuses to vote before Election Day.
Sen. Larry Martin, a Republican from Pickens who is the judiciary committee chairman, said the early-voting bill has broad support in the Senate.
Martin said senators have passed early-voting bills in the past, only to see them die in the South Carolina House of Representatives.
“The roadblock is over in the House,” he said.