FLORENCE, S.C. — A letter has been sent from the Florence County Voter Registration and Elections Board concerning problems in placing a full-length referendum question on the Nov. 2020.

The letter, signed by board Chairman Ashley B. Nance, was sent on Nov. 22, according to a copy received by the Morning News.

The referendum question involved is the potential re-imposition of a capital project sales tax of one penny per each $1 spent in the county.

Basically, state law requires that the entirety of referendum questions appear on the ballot. If the proposed capital projects involved are numerous, this could take several pages that a voter must go through to vote.

Among the concerns raised are the increased time in the voting booth that could cause longer lines, leading to people leaving without voting or not voting in some elections.

“The election day voting process will take an estimated 10 minutes per voter leading to increased waiting time, lines at the precincts, and parking problems,” Nance says in the letter. “South Carolina election law provides that a voter’s time limit is three minutes in the voting booth ... Florence County has an estimated 85,000 registered voters and the expected turnout for the 2020 general election is 65-75%.”

Seventy-five percent of 85,000 is 63,750. Sixty-five percent is 55,250.

“Unprecedented attention by local and national media outlets is expected statewide,” Nance wrote. “Extreme lines and wait times can be equated to voter suppression. The negative attention could lead to legal action locally as well as federally.”

Another concern relates to the length of absentee ballots, which could be several pages long and ballots are not supposed to be stapled.

Nance said the county will have approximately 130 ballot variations.

Failure to address the concerns, the letter adds, could lead to a fallout that the board might not be able to overcome on election day or for several weeks afterward even if it trained poll workers and staff.

Nance offers two potential solutions: update South Carolina law to allow for a summary to be placed on the ballot and provide information to voters beforehand by publishing in newspapers and mailing a booklet to each registered voter and consider changing the date of the referendum.

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Government and Poltics Reporter

I cover the city of Florence, the county of Florence, the state legislative delegation of Florence County and surrounding areas, and the federal delegation representing the Pee Dee for the Morning News.

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