All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
The late Civil Rights activist-turned-Congressman from Georgia, John Lewis, is famous for many progressive stances and pithy quotes. Here is one of the latter: “Democracy is an act. It requires participation, organization, and dedication to the highest principles.” He knew that the act of voting is one of the most important responsibilities of every eligible American, especially in even-numbered years, when every seat in the House of Representatives is up for vote. This year, our state of South Carolina legislative representatives are also up for a vote.
There are important issues this year. Which is the most important, is it the economy and inflation on the one hand, or is it abortion and women’s rights on the other? Both are important, with the former having center stage among federal issues and the latter here in South Carolina. As of this writing, our state legislature is working to make our already strict anti-abortion laws even more restrictive. The House proposed H. 5399, a bill that was designed as a near-total abortion ban. Our two Legislators, Republican Bill Hixon and Democrat Bill Clyburn,had their votes cancel one another out, but the bill passed. Our State Senator, Shane Massey, led the Republican effort to address H.5399 in the Senate. Senator Massey realized that there were not enough Senate votes to pass it as written, so he introduced an amendment that was essentially a stricter version of the state’s six-week abortion ban. That revised bill is now slated for House debate on September 27.
How do voters in South Carolina view efforts like this? In Republican-led Kansas, there was a voter referendum that defeated an effort to restrict abortion there – following a voter registration drive in which something like 70% of new registrants were women. In Republican-led Michigan, a referendum will be on their November ballot, and voter registration is picking up there, too. We in South Carolina do not have anything like a referendum coming up, but we do have the opportunity to vote for or against our current legislators as well as all the other office holders to be listed on November’s ballot.
Have you registered to vote? Here are the South Carolina deadlines coming up over the next few weeks. You can find more information about each of these at our County Election Office on Penn Street, calling them at 803-637-4072, or by checking at scvotes.com. Deadline to register in person: Friday, October 7, 5:00 p.m. Deadline to register online, by fax, or by email: Sunday, October 9, 11:59 p.m. Last day to postmark registration submitted by mail: Tuesday, October 11. Early in-person voting: Monday, October 24, to Saturday, November 5, 6:00 p.m. Deadline to request absentee-by-mail ballot: Friday, October 28, 5:00 p.m. Election Day: Tuesday, November 8, 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. There are new restrictions on Absentee Voting this year, now that COVID-19 has abated somewhat; so, if you intend to vote absentee, be sure to get your request in early enough to review the rules and to make sure that you qualify.
Whatever your primary motivator to vote this year, I hope you remember John Lewis’ three guiding principles of Democracy quoted at the beginning of this article and, for now, focus on that first one: participation!