SC will pay postage for all mail-in ballots in November

Early voting registrations have been mailed to voters.

COLUMBIA, S.C.  — The South Carolina State Elections Commission has agreed to provide prepaid return postage for all absentee ballots by mail this November.

The joint agreement, filed in federal court Wednesday, follows a lawsuit by individual voters and multiple Democratic party groups earlier this year over voting access and safety in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Plaintiffs argued the requirement for voters to pay the return postage was akin to a poll tax. They said people buying stamps would likely have to break social distancing protocols and interact with other people to do so, thus potentially furthering the spread of COVID-19.

The election commission estimates providing the postage will cost the state between $750,000 and $1.2 million, commission spokesman Chris Whitmire told the Post and Courier.

The suit is one of several filed over voting-related issues in the state this year.

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Voters in the state usually have to provide a specific reason for voting absentee, such as being 65 or older or having a physical disability. State lawmakers agreed to allow all voters to cast absentee ballots in this year’s June primary, but have not done so for the general election.

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At The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, we focus primarily on Georgia news, but we also like to provide readers with regional coverage of the Southeast. We cover stories that impact our region, especially in Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, South Carolina, North Carolina and Mississippi.