South Carolina Takes Steps to Protect Voters During the COVID-19 Pandemic
COLUMBIA, S.C. — In a victory for voting rights, South Carolina took steps today to better protect voters in the November general election during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The action follows a federal lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of South Carolina, and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. The groups challenged a state requirement that forced people who vote absentee to have an “excuse” to do so, as well as a witness requirement for absentee ballots.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed a measure this afternoon that would allow all voters to cast absentee ballots because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Today’s action by Gov. McMaster is an important step forward for South Carolinians who want to vote in the general election without risking their health during COVID-19,” said Ali Titus, director of policy and communications at the ACLU of South Carolina.
The measure signed today does not waive the witness-signature requirement on absentee ballots, which makes voting from a safe social distance impossible for those who live alone.
“We will continue to litigate to remove this remaining hurdle to safe voting in South Carolina,” said Adriel Cepeda Derieux, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.
LDF attorney Zachery Morris added: “This is certainly a step in the right direction, as it is unconscionable for voters to have to make a choice between their health and their vote. Nevertheless, South Carolina’s absentee ballot witness-signature requirement is still forcing many voters into making that very choice, and we will continue working tirelessly to ensure that they no longer have to do so.”
Case details: https://www.aclu.org/cases/thomas-v-andino
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