WREN Testimony in Opposition to H.4150
by WREN Staff on Apr 15, 2021
This testimony was prepared for the House Judiciary Election Laws Subcommittee on April 15, 2021.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit written testimony to this committee. My name is Ann Warner and I am the CEO of the Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network (WREN). WREN is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization with a mission to build a movement to advance the health, economic well-being, and rights of South Carolina’s women, girls, and their families.
On behalf of our organization, I ask committee members to vote NO on H.4150.
Voting is the foundation of our democracy, and our democracy can only function if every eligible voter has access to the voting franchise. One of WREN’s major contributions to our state is helping educate South Carolinians about how to advocate for their rights and the issues that they care about with their elected officials. Many people that we work with are concerned that their voices are not being heard here in Columbia or in Washington. They are concerned that lawmakers are actually trying to make it harder, rather than easier, to vote.
We oppose H.4150, which unnecessarily restricts in-person no-excuse early voting, as well as greatly reduces the existing excused-absentee voting criteria for mail-in or hand delivery.
H.4150 provides a period of no-excuse early voting that is shorter than what was allowed in 2020, but only allows that as in-person early voting and is offset by a series of restrictions that do not appear to be grounded in any accepted security concerns. It also dictates criteria for establishing early voting locations and their hours of operation in a way that could diminish access for some voters. Further, H.4150 does not include no-excuse early absentee voting by mail or hand delivery.
Section 3 of the bill removes some of the existing excuses for an excuse absentee vote. Governmental employees, persons on vacation, persons with employment obligations, poll watchers and other elections staff, caretakers for sick or physically disabled persons, persons with a death or funeral in the family and persons serving as jurors would no longer be eligible for excused absentee voting.
This bill would fail to meet the needs of modern South Carolinians. Most adults in South Carolina work and care for their family members. Here in South Carolina women are the primary or co-breadwinners in over two-thirds of families and are frequently primary caregivers to children, elders, or others in their households and communities. It is increasingly difficult for women to find time to cast a ballot while balancing these many responsibilities and it is simply unnecessary to require them to do so in a single 12-hour period in the midst of a workweek. Long lines at the polls and overwhelmed election officials and poll workers magnify the inconvenience and can cause them to turn away and lose trust in our democracy.
We should be increasing access to early voting, not creating more barriers.
Early voting eases Election Day congestion, leading to shorter lines and improved poll-worker performance. It allows election officials to correct registration errors and fix voting system glitches earlier. And polling has shown that early voting enjoys popular support. Currently, a majority of U.S. adults (59%) say that everything possible should be done to make it easy for every citizen to vote iii.
H.4150 provides for but restricts in-person no-excuse early voting as well as greatly reduces the existing excused-absentee voting criteria for mail-in or hand delivery. This would diminish access for some voters.
Respectfully we ask that you vote NO on H.4150.