Democrats File ‘Four Pillars’ Federal Lawsuit In South Carolina

Democrats file federal suit to remove restrictive and unconstitutional barriers to absentee mail-in voting amid COVID-19 outbreak

Today, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Democratic National Committee, and South Carolina Democratic Party filed suit in a U.S. Federal Court in Columbia, South Carolina seeking to remove four restrictive and unconstitutional barriers to accessing an absentee mail-in ballot. The federal suit filed today follows a South Carolina Supreme Court lawsuit Democrats filed in April.

Without implementing protections that open access to using an absentee mail-in ballot, the COVID-19 pandemic could force voters to choose between their health and safety or participating in democracy.

This suit seeks to remove restrictive barriers to using an absentee mail-in ballot so that all of South Carolina’s 3.3 million voters have access to a safe and healthy voting option by:

  • Eliminating the “Witness Requirement” which would force voters to who live alone to cease social distancing practices in order to find someone else to validate their secure ballot;

  • Removing the “Postage Tax” which requires voters to secure and append their own postage to an absentee mail-in ballot. At any time, requiring voters to pay to vote is unconstitutional. In the wake of an unprecedented health crisis, it additionally would require voters to discontinue social distancing practices;

  • Addressing the “Election Day Cut-off” in a manner that recognizes that the postal service is operating under taxing demands amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. While voters may mail their ballots in time for the cut-off, the postal service may not receive them ‘on time’ to count the votes of  South Carolinians, rendering them voiceless in this process;

  • Removing the “Absentee Assistance Ban” which makes it a criminal felony for a candidate or campaign staffer to assist voters with returning their ballot. This unmerited rule makes it harder for South Carolinians to vote absentee.

DCCC Chairwoman Rep. Cheri Bustos

“The bottom line is that no voter should face unnecessarily restrictive barriers to voting with an absentee mail-in ballot. In the midst of a global pandemic, our leaders must ensure every voter has access to participating in our democratic process free of fear they might be jeopardizing the health and safety of themselves, their families, and their community.”

Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez

“Every South Carolina voter has the right to make their voice heard. That’s why we’re fighting for commonsense steps to ensure a safe, fair, and accessible election. We won’t allow this pandemic to be used as an excuse to undermine our democracy. It’s the job of our leaders to defend our right to vote, not to create unnecessary, unconstitutional burdens.”

SCDP Chairman Trav Robertson, Jr. 

“The Republicans that control our government have a moral responsibility to protect our citizens and a constitutional responsibility to make sure our Democracy doesn’t falter. Our more learned citizens have taken the lead in managing the majority of precincts or polling locations in our state, it is reckless to ask them to risk their lives when the Republicans who control our government have the ability to protect those citizens while ensuring our Democracy thrives. Our people demand that they take action and eliminate the qualifications for absentee voting and transition to a mail in voting program.”