What's in a name?: South Carolina is a de-facto early-voting state
Forget those official reports about "absentee voters" only. South Carolina is a de-facto "early voting" state.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures "Absentee and Early Voting" Web page, only these states offer bona-fide no excuse, in-person early voting:
Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.
South Carolina stipulates the following criteria for early absentee voting:
• Students, their spouses and dependents residing with them
•Members of the Armed Forces, Merchant Marines, Red Cross, USO, government employees, their spouses and dependents residing with them
• For reasons of employment will not be able to vote on election day
• Physically disabled persons
• Persons on vacation
• Persons age 65 or older
• Persons admitted to the hospital as emergency patients on day of election or at least four days prior to the election
Electors with a death or funeral in the family within 3 days before the election
• Persons confined to a jail or pre-trial facility pending disposition of arrest or trial
• Persons attending sick or physically disabled persons
• Persons serving as jurors in a state or federal court on election day
• Certified poll watchers and poll managers
Verification of these criteria is on the "honor system," however. Several of my coworkers have already voted without contest by claiming that "for reasons of employment (they) will not be able to vote on election day." No documentation was required.
The result is the same long lines as in states that openly provide "early voting." The ambiguity has proven confusing to many Palmetto State voters, who assume more stringent criteria than are actually in place.
"All states offer voters the option of voting prior to the election," said the National Conference of State Legislatures. "In some states, the ballots are returned by mail. This is referred to as absentee voting. Other states permit voters to vote in person at the offices of county clerks or at other satellite voting locations. This is referred to as early voting or in-person absentee voting."