For years the Legislature has toyed with the idea of allowing early voting in South Carolina. Maybe the long lines during the November election will get the job done this year.
A bill outlining how early voting would be handled has made its way to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Under this plan, residents could cast ballots starting 10 days before an election. Local election officials would be required to set up at least one early voting center in each county.
Similar bills have inched their way through the Legislature in the past, but haven’t made it to the finish line.
Voting should be a simple process. Certainly the process requires many checks and regulations, but the act of casting a ballot should be simple and encouraging. For many in Aiken County, it was anything but simple. There were reports of voters waiting as long as two hours to vote some precincts.
The problems in Richland County were even worse – there were reports of waits of six hours or more.
Across the state similar problems were reported.
It was enough to make fixing the problem a priority for our local delegations immediately after the Nov. 5 election.
Early voting is a simple solution and reports show it has been successful.
In Georgia, voters can begin voting three weeks before election day on the Saturday before election day. In the last election, nearly 2 million people took advantage of it. In North Carolina, which also has early voting, election officials said 60 percent of voters cast ballots early, keeping lines on election day shorter, The Associated Press reported.
It’s time for the citizens of South Carolina to have the same option.