As released by Rep. Bill Taylor, SC House District 86
#1 Election Integrity Bill Passes
Finally, we passed the Election Integrity Bill that's been nearly two years in the making. It has been the #1 priority of many citizens and most legislators who want to fortify S.C.'s election system to avoid the shenanigans experienced in some states during the 2020 Presidential Election.
Even though this legislation passed both the House and Senate unanimously last month, the election bill nearly fell victim to a political tug-of-war over who would approve appointments to State Election Commission. In the end, Senators and Gov. Henry McMaster compromised – Senators will approve the executive director of the Election Commission, but not the entire Commission, which the Governor appoints. The milestone legislation was ratified Thursday and Gov. McMaster quickly signed it into law Friday.
Here are the highlights of the Election Integrity Bill (S.108):
A first for S.C. creates an 'Early Voting' process, which extends two weeks before an election for all qualified voters.
Allow no excuse for early voting three days before a runoff election.
Establishes a set number of early voting sites in each county.
Modifies why an absentee ballot can be cast by replacing being "on vacation" with "absent from the country for the duration of early voting and Election Day.
Fortifying Election Integrity
This bill drastically improves and fortifies the integrity of our election system by introducing safeguards and protections. Most notably, this bill enhances identity verification and addresses those voting early and absentee voting:
Strengthens the law on absentee mail-in voting by requiring any witness to be at least 18 years old.
A witness must print their name on the outer envelope.
The absentee voter must print the last four digits of their social security number on their ballot.
Bans ballot harvesting by limiting to five the number of absentee ballots a person can return (previously, there was no limit resulting in ballot harvesting).
Any person delivering absentee ballots must provide a current photo I.D. and must have a completed authorization form from the person for whom they are delivering the ballot.
Only those who are hospitalized, disabled, or outside the county of residence on election day may vote absentee.
Those over 65 may continue to vote absentee.
The Election Commission Director must conduct maintenance on the voter registration list every year using Bureau of Vital Statistics information, provided monthly. Additionally, the DMV will provide the Election Commission with a list of non-residents to clean up voter rolls.
Voting systems (i.e., voting machines) must comply with security protocol, including not having internet or wireless connection capability, may not have automatic adjustment functions and must preserve a secure image of each ballot cast for 24 months.
Random Election audits will be conducted of precincts and must be made public.
Prohibits third-party funding for elections (Bans Zuckerbucks!).
The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House may intervene in any cases regarding challenges to an election.
Anyone found guilty of voter fraud will be charged with a felony and must be fined no less than $1,000 or more than $5,000 and imprisoned for five years.
Election officials to begin examining and tabulating absentee votes before Election Day so that results will be available in hours rather than days. It also makes disclosing information about results a punishable offense.
Eliminates Fusion Voting
It prevents candidates from being nominated by more than one political party or appearing on the ballot more than once. This provision takes effect after the 2022 General Election because candidates have already filed for this year.