By: Anna Miller
In May 2020, the Supreme Court of South Carolina was asked to rule on whether the COVID-19 pandemic constituted enough of a “physical disability” to allow all South Carolina voters to vote absentee in the 2020 election. Currently, South Carolina election law requires absentee voters to have an approved reason for casting an absentee ballot, including being unable to cast an in-person vote due to physical disability. South Carlina Code Section 7-15-310 defines physical disability as “a person who, because of injury or illness, cannot be present in person at his voting place on election day.”
In Bailey v. SEC, the South Carolina Democratic Party sued the South Carolina State Election Commission to reinterpret this provision in light of the global pandemic, which would allow every voter to vote absentee without changing South Carolina’s election laws. However, while this case was pending before the South Carolina Supreme Court, the South Carolina legislature made temporary changes to the election law allowing regions under a state of emergency declaration to vote absentee without a stated reason.