Sean Rayford file photo

South Carolina’s Senate will meet Sept. 2 to address early voting, according to an Aug. 17 statement from Senate President Harvey Peeler, R-Gaffney.

“The Senate plans to consider updates to our election laws that will allow citizens to vote safely and securely this November,” the statement said.

Peeler said that while it is unclear “what the situation will be like in November,” the state should prepare now for “safe and secure voting.”

Peeler’s Monday announcement did not detail what measures the Senate will consider.

Earlier this year, the legislature allowed the expansion of absentee voting in the state ahead of the June primaries amid the coronavirus pandemic, but did not expand that for any other elections. In recent weeks, more have pushed for the state to again expand absentee rules. Those who have joined the call to expand absentee voting have included Peeler, House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Hartsville, and leaders of the S.C. Association of Registration and Election Officials.

In a statement, Lucas’ office said the House will stick to their plans to return Sept. 15.

“I understand if the Senate feels it needs additional time to debate this matter,” Lucas said. “I’m confident that, working together, both chambers will make changes that will protect voters throughout the state.”

State law allows many reasons for registered voters to request an absentee ballot, but avoiding an illness or contaminating others is not among the legal reasons. See full list here.

The General Assembly was already scheduled to meet in mid-September to address the 2020-2021 state spending budget, which was deferred due to a shortened legislative session and unknowns with tax revenue as the state’s economy tanked during shutdowns and continued uncertainty.