Public officials, advocacy groups push for extension on SC voter registration deadline

Public officials, advocacy groups push for extension on SC voter registration deadline
The ACLU of South Carolina and Attorney General Alan Wilson are pushing for the South Carolina Election Commission to extend the deadline for South Carolinians to register to vote. (Source: Pixabay)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The ACLU of South Carolina and Attorney General Alan Wilson are pushing for an extension on the deadline for South Carolinians to register to vote.

The requests for extending the deadline come after several counties were impacted by the threat and damages from Hurricane Florence in September.

“In these extraordinary circumstances, we strongly recommend that measures be taken to ensure that all voting-eligible South Carolinians who need additional time to register to vote as a result of the impact of Hurricane Florence be given that time so that they are not disenfranchised by this natural disaster,” the ACLU said in a letter sent to the Election Commission.

The ACLU of South Carolina sent that letter to the Election Commission on Sept. 24.

Three days later, Attorney General Alan Wilson filed a lawsuit against the executive director of the Election Commission.

The lawsuit requests the deadline be extended until Oct. 17.

“That date would allow citizens whose lives have been disrupted due to the profound impact of Hurricane Florence time to register to vote in order to exercise this fundamental right while recovery efforts proceed,” Wilson said in his lawsuit.

Ultimately, the Election Commission does not have the power to change the deadline for registering to vote.

That decision will have to come from the courts.

“The SEC supports taking action to protect the voting rights of citizens affected by Hurricane Florence and the subsequent flooding that continues today,” Election Commission spokesperson Chris Whitmire said in an email. “To protect the voting rights of citizens, the SEC supports efforts through the courts or through the S.C. General Assembly to extend the voter registration deadline to allow more time for citizens to register to be eligible to vote in the 2018 General Election.”

There will be a court hearing on Wilson’s lawsuit Tuesday at 11 a.m.

Whitmire said the commission will publish information about any possible extension once a decision is made.

If the deadline is not changed, South Carolina residents must register to vote in-person by Oct. 5, online by Oct. 7.

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