Our Republican state legislature is doing everything to stack the deck in the next election and not allow what happened in 2008 happen again in 2010. Their plan is not to bring more people into the Republican tent but to keep as many as possible out of the Democratic tent, at least on Election Day.

They are doing this with H3608, the bill which just passed the House Judiciary Committee and is headed for a floor vote before the end of the legislative term. H3608 would do a couple of things. First, it would shorten the period of early voting from 15 days before the election to only three days. Remember the long lines and long waits during last November’s election? Well, bring a good book and a snack to the poll in 2010, because you’re going to be there a while. The League of Women Voters of South Carolina thinks that early voting is so effective at getting people to the polls that they had recommended at 30-day early voting period. But that was a pipe dream.

H3608 will have another deleterious effect on democracy in South Carolina, by restricting absentee voting. Absentee ballots would need to be paper ballots only—no in-person absentee voting. An absentee ballot would have to be requested in writing or in person only, no phone requests, and made at the voter registration office. No extension offices would be allowed. In addition, the absentee ballot would need to be requested by the voter himself or herself. Family members such as a spouse or child would no longer be permitted to make the request.

Both of these measures are designed to prevent the surge of black voters that shifted the balance of power in the state in the last election, cost the GOP two House seats and nearly a congressional seat.

Ask a Republican why they are doing this and he will say it’s to prevent voter fraud. Ask him to show you an example of voter fraud in the last election and he will change the subject.

You can raise your voice against this disenfranchisement of thousands of South Carolina voters. Call your state representative and ask him or her to vote against 3 day early voting in South Carolina and support the original 15 days. Tell your representative you are against H3608.

To find you legislators, go to http://www.scstatehouse.net/cgi-bin/zipcodesearch.exe.