SC Senate addresses election concerns


This notification was received by the Journal on September 8. It appears verbatim as received:

The Senate met on Sept. 2 at the call of the President for the sole purpose of addressing concerns raised by the Election Commission and the South Carolina Association of Registration and Election Officials (SCARE) in conducting the upcoming general election due to COVID-19. The Senate amended H. 5305, a House bill dealing with voting precincts, with a strike and insert provision.
As amended, H. 5305 allows a person to use COVID-19 as an excuse to vote by absentee ballot in the general election. Completed applications for absentee ballots must be received by the county board of elections and voter registration before 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 24, 2020, if submitted by mail; 5:00 p.m. on Friday, October 30,2020 if submitted in-person, or by a voter’s authorized representative; or 5:00 p.m. on Monday, November 2, 2020 for a voter who appears in person to vote absentee ballot at the county office of elections and voter registration.
If a voter is admitted to a hospital as an emergency patient from Friday, October 30, 2020, through Tuesday, November 3, 2020, an immediate family member may obtain an application for absentee ballot on election day, complete it, deliver it to the patient to vote, and then personally carry it back to the county office. County offices must allow for in-office absentee voting beginning on October 5, 2020.
In addition, H. 5305 allows county boards of election and registration to begin the process of examining the return-addressed envelopes at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 3, 2020. They can then begin tabulating absentee ballots on November 3, 2020 at 7:00 a.m. However, the results of the absentee ballot tabulation must not be publicly reported until after the polls are closed. The Election Commission is charged with establishing an aggressive voter education program regarding these provisions. The provisions of H. 5305 will only apply to the 2020 general election. (Editor’s note: Sunday is December 1. Tues, the day of the election, is December 3.)
There were several unsuccessful amendments to the bill such as the removal of the witness signature for absentee ballots, drop boxes for absentee ballots, and curbside voting at centralized locations within a county, to name a few. The bill was given second reading and third reading on Thursday by unanimous consent. The House did not meet this week. They will take up H. 5305 when they return on September 15, 2020, unless the Speaker of the House calls them back at an earlier date.