COLUMBIA - A key House panel passed a bill Tuesday that would establish no-excuse early voting in South Carolina.

The bill, S.4, has already been passed by the Senate. As it stands, voters must have a broad range of reasons to vote "absentee" before an election, including being physically disabled, having work obligations or a student attending school elsewhere.

The House Judiciary Committee adopted several changes to the bill but rejected a push by Rep. Alan Clemmons, R-Myrtle Beach, to allow counties to open up only one polling place per county. The committee decided to allow counties to decide how many polling places need to be opened.

Clemmons disagreed.

"If that's inconvenient golly let's not forget there's still Election Day," he said. "My gut tells me let's take it one small step at a time. We are making a huge game change in Election Day politics."

The bill now moves to the House floor.

Reach Jeremy Borden at 708-5837.