The court order and the directive assured hundreds of voters that their votes would count.

The past year has brought multiple crises – from the continued murder of Black people by law enforcement, to the direct and collateral harms of COVID-19, to systematic efforts to restrict the fundamental right to vote, and more.

Thanks to ACLU supporters like you, we stood ready to face these crises – and we are ready for whatever comes next.

For the rest of this month, we invite you to tune in as we share some of our accomplishments from the past year. While we achieved many successes in 2020, much work remains before we can consider South Carolina a state where We the People means everyone. Thank you for being part of this work.

Read more about this work:

Every Vote Should Count

South Carolina has no procedure which allows voters to correct minor issues with their absentee ballot envelopes. And, each county has its own method for determining whether the voter’s signature on the outside of the absentee ballot matches the signature on other election records.

South Carolina election law requires election officials to reject any absentee ballot based if it is missing a required signature on the outside of the ballot return envelope, and county election officials may reject ballots when a determination is made that the signature on the back of the absentee ballot does not match other signatures on record for that voter. Voters are not required to be notified if this happens, so many ballots completed by properly registered voters may be rejected without an notice to the voter or any opportunity to cure any technical defect.

In early October, we filed  League of Women Voters of South Carolina et. al v. Andino in federal Court with our partners, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.  The case was assigned to the Honorable Richard Gergel.

In response to our request for a preliminary injunction, Judge Gergel ordered all counties to refrain from rejecting ballots for signature matching issues. The State Election commission also issued a directive ordering all counties to stop attempting to match the voter’s signature on the absentee ballot with any other voter signature on record. The court order and the directive assured hundreds of voters that their votes would count.

This elimination of signature matching will be a permanent change for all future elections.

The State has appealed certain provisions of the preliminary injunction to the 4th Circuit.  We anticipate a resolution at the district level once the 4th Circuit review of the preliminary injunction is completed.