In the often heated debate about voting regulations, some are focusing on making the system more secure.
Some are focusing on making it more convenient.
And all would like to see it more accurate.
So it was welcome news last week when a bill aimed at helping in all three areas received the unanimous support of the state House of Representatives. The bipartisan plan is now in the Senate, where it should be given prompt attention and approval.
The legislation would allow South Carolina residents to register online to vote. Already nine states allow that, and several more are considering it.
The convenience is obvious. People can use their drivers licenses or state-issued photo identification cards to register without leaving their houses.
Because paperwork is reduced, there is less room for clerical errors. The bill would improve the Election Commission’s ability to track when voters move within the state or to other states that use similar systems.
And it could ferret out inconsistencies in the information provided by voters.
Rep. Alan Clemmons, R-Myrtle Beach, hopes it will prevent errors and confusion, such as occurred earlier this year in the course of considering a law to require voters to produce drivers licenses or state-issued voter identification. The Department of Motor Vehicles reported that 953 people appeared to have voted after their death. In actuality, the Election Commission found no cases of fraud or ballots cast in dead people’s names. It did discover some clerical errors and it found some people died after being issued absentee ballots.
Instituting the online registration system is expected to cost each state between $200,000 and $300,000. States are expected to recoup the expense within two years.
Voting is a tremendous privilege that comes with citizenship, and it should be afforded people carefully, but conveniently.
And citizens — those who vote and those who choose not to — deserve the assurance that registration and elections are fair and accurate.
The proposed change in state law would beef up security, improve accuracy and make it more accessible for people registering to vote.