New bill could make sure voters voice is heard, but concerns organizations

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) The problem, as some see it, is to be able to hold organizations more accountable when signing people up to vote. Representative Alan Clemmons says people are filling out applications at voter registration drives, only to show up on election day to find out their name isn't listed, leaving them without a voice.

The state election commission office says there have been situations where organizations miss the deadlines to turn forms in. But that's not the only issue, as voter registration applications have a lot of personal information, from social security numbers to your date of birth. This bill would regulate what happens at voter registration drives and where those applications go. It would place rules on these organization and fines if forms come up missing.

Voters say they think the state needs to step in. "Well they're free to do what they want," said voter Lee Peber. "The state shouldn't have a whole bunch of influence in it but they should definitely see what's going on in those situations."

But community members say this bill would hurt more than help. This bill would affect your local church, boy scout troop, or any other organization that helps register voters. With this bill, these organizations would have to turn in registration forms within five days of signing people up. If they don't, then there are consequences. Fines for missing the deadline start at 50 dollars, and could go all the way up to one thousand for "intentional violations". And it doesn't stop there.  All volunteers have to sign statements swearing to follow state election laws.

Community organizations and some local democrats say it's another way for the state to keep certain people from voting. Some say the state is focusing on the wrong thing. "There's no need to spend a whole lot of resources guarding against third parties," said community activist Bennie Swans. "When we need to be moving to encouraging people, empowering people, registering people, so they can vote their choice."

The state election commission office says it would take around 20 thousand dollars to make the procedural changes to handle tracking organizations. Right now there are no rules for organizations registering people to vote. Lawmakers are expected to pick up the debate later this month.

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