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S.C. extends deadline for voter signup until Oct. 17

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By Gregory A. Summers

COLUMBIA – The voter-registration deadline for November’s general election has been extended to Oct. 17 statewide in response to the continuing Hurricane Florence recovery.
A Richland County court issued the order to extend the cut-off date by 10 days after S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson filed a lawsuit Friday, Sept. 28, requesting it. The state’s normal registration deadline is 30 days before an election.
“The right to vote is fundamental. To protect this right to the extent possible in the wake of a major hurricane causing unparalleled flooding, the executive director [S.C. Election Commission Chair Marci Andino] must be directed to set a voter registration of Oct. 17th,” Wilson said in the complaint.
On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union also sent a letter to state election officials seeking the delay after Florence devastated several S.C. counties last month.
The extension covers all 46 counties, since any such change must be uniform across the state.
Wilson’s lawsuit cited the destruction and aftermath of Florence, especially along the flooded Pee Dee River Basin.
The hurricane made landfall Sept. 14 near Wilmington, N.C., and crept across the Carolinas for three days, causing massive flooding in many areas.
The storm is responsible for at least nine deaths in the state.
Some S.C. communities were drenched by more than 12 inches of rainfall, forcing many to evacuate. Florence displaced more than 10,000 residents statewide and damaged some 2,000-plus homes.  
Chris Whitmire, spokesman for the state election commission, said the commission supported the extension, but didn’t have the authority to enact it. That, he noted, had to be granted by either the courts or S.C. General Assembly.
“Many citizens have been displaced and are struggling to recover, and many county voter registration offices were closed for considerable periods of time,” Whitmire said in a statement on Tuesday after the court issued its ruling.
Lancaster County Elections Director Mary Ann Hudson said she thought the extension was a good idea and noted that the change shouldn’t cause any hiccups.
“A lot of voter offices had to close due to the storm, and as always, our priority is serving the voters,” Hudson said.
How to register
There are several ways to register to vote in South Carolina:
◆ Register in person at the Lancaster County Voter Registration Office, on the lower level of the Lancaster County Administration Building, 103 N. Main St. Anyone with questions, should call (803) 285-2969.
◆ Register online at scVOTES.org before midnight Oct. 17. Online registration requires an S.C. driver’s license or S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles identification card.
◆ Register using the My scVOTES mobile app before midnight Oct. 17. The app, available in the Apple and Google Play stores, also requires a driver’s license or DMV card.
◆ Download a voter registration form from scVOTES.org. Complete and return it to the Lancaster County Voter Registration Office. They can also be faxed to (877) 636-5277 or sent by e-mail attachment to mahudson@lancastercountysc.net. If the form is returned by mail, it must be postmarked by Oct. 17.

Follow reporter Greg Summers on Twitter @GregSummersTLN or contact him at (803) 283-1156.