Today is primary election day in South Carolina. So is tomorrow, and the day after, for eight of the next 10 days. Our first-ever, non-pandemic early voting period means voting in the Republican or Democratic primaries should be easier than ever, and we urge everyone to participate.
In most contests in our state, these primaries will decide who takes office, so if you wait until November to vote, you’re less likely to have a say about who represents you in statewide office, in Congress, in the Legislature and even some local offices.
For awhile, it looked as if the Legislature was going to fail once again to make voting more accessible, but with the clock ticking toward the end of this year’s session, Sen. Chip Campsen and Rep. Weston Newton were able to break through a bizarre standoff between the House and Senate and push through a long-promised plan to transform Election Day from a single day to two weeks.
It was an imperfect compromise, but a compromise nonetheless — something that’s almost always better than either side getting everything it wants — and we all ought to be excited about today’s start of early voting.
Unless we’re committed to voting on the traditional Election Day — which we still prefer, for mostly sentimental reasons, but also just in case something bizarre happens at the last minute — we need to understand the new rules for early voting and the changed rules for absentee voting so we don’t get tripped up, particularly as election officials are getting used to the new regimen.
And our lawmakers need to pay close attention to how this all sorts out, with an eye toward making adjustments as needed to fulfill their noble promise of making it easier than ever to vote and tougher than ever to cheat.
It’s disappointing that legislators insisted on making universal early voting available only in person. Mail-in voting remains the cheapest and most efficient way to accomplish what has always for us been the primary reason (outside of a raging pandemic) to give voters more time to cast votes: to reduce Election Day lines, without having to spend ridiculous amounts of money on additional voting machines and poll workers.