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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The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.