COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — There’s a chance a bill that would establish early voting in South Carolina, and passed both the South Carolina House and Senate unanimously, won’t become law this year.
H.4919 makes other changes to state election laws, like expanding state-run audits and increasing voter fraud penalties. The bill received wide bipartisan support at the State House.
Before passing the Senate, Senators made changes to the legislation House leadership and the Governor said they can’t sign off on. Senators inserted proposals from another elections bill.
The sticking point is a provision that requires the Senate to confirm the Governor’s appointments to the State Election Commission. Senator Shane Massey (R-Edgefield) said this was necessary following the changes the commission made before the 2020 elections. These include the consideration of the use of drop boxes and waiving the witness signature for absentee ballots.
Republican lawmakers challenged the changes in court ahead of the elections.
Sen. Massey said the bill now adds a layer of accountability, “I think this is the right thing to do. I think the Senate should have advice and consent. Frankly, that’s enough for me. I don’t care what the House is going to do. I don’t care what the Governor’s position is. We ought to adopt it.”
House Speaker Jay Lucas released a statement Thursday after the Senate gave H.4919 third reading:
“The Senate’s passed version of House Bill 4919 ended any real opportunity for election reform this year. After two years of extremely hard work by many in both chambers, it is a shame that the Senate Majority Leader chose to unnecessarily increase his own power rather than take concrete steps to make South Carolina’s elections the most secure in the United States. Voters need to know that the Senate, urged by their majority leader, killed voter integrity legislation because they wanted to take control of the Election Commission for themselves.”House Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Darlington)
Governor Henry McMaster has also been very critical of the Senate’s version of the bill. He said, “Unfortunately some Senators want to get into managing the election commission which is not their job. It’s not a legislative function but an executive function. This puts a poison pill in that bill.”
The bill now heads back to the House.