Clyburn uses annual fish fry to remind community to vote ahead of registration deadline

Clyburn uses annual fish fry to remind community to vote ahead of registration deadline
(Source: Adam Mintzer)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Monday is a crucial date on South Carolina voters calendar. It is the last day for voters to register and the first-day voters can show up at county offices to cast their ballots in person.

Following Sunday’s deadline for people to register to vote online or by fax, a voter’s last chance to register by mail is Monday. All registration forms must be postmarked on October 5th at the latest to be accepted.

Members of the South Carolina Democratic Party kicked off this final push to Election Day with a tradition, Jim Clyburn’s World-Famous Fish Fry.

The annual event is traditionally meant to galvanize Democrat’s support for their party before an election, but like so many other events, there were some changes this year.

Organizers called it a “hybrid edition.” They hosted smaller events around the state rather than one large one, a drive-through with volunteers handing out free fried fish, a live DJ, and a Prisma Health employee handing out free masks. This year also included a bipartisan message to encourage people to get out and vote.

“I know they were doing early voting this year, but I didn’t know if it was going to be mail-in or... I didn’t know we would have physical sites that we can go to and have our early voting. Because the mail-in voting, I didn’t want to do that,” said Frances Randolph Green. “I don’t trust my ballot to get where it needs to go,” she added.

While technically there is no early voting in South Carolina, voters can cast their ballots in-person at their county offices are satellite offices starting Monday.

Long-time Richland County poll worker Pamela Thomas also came by the fish fry, she said she was hopeful there would be a surge in first-time voters this year. Thomas is aware voting can be a frustrating process for many because of long lines, so she encouraged people to take advantage of voting absentee.

“That would help for the lines being longs,” Thomas said. “But we are trying to bring as many people to the polls as possible, so it is going to be long lines at absentee and at the poll precincts also,” she warned.

For grassroots organizers like the co-founders of Vision Walkers, the end of voter registration is just the beginning of their efforts to encourage people in marginalized communities to vote.

“One of the things we have to do is to have voter education before voter participation. We have to empower the voter, so the voter understands his right as a citizen to get out and vote to elect the right people in the office to represent their interests rather than the interests of others,” Vision Walkers co-founder Craig Khanell said.

Representative Clyburn’s challenger for in the 2020 race for South Carolina’s 6th congressional seat, John McCollum, responded to the day’s event. He wrote, “I still hold out hope that Mr. Clyburn will make time to debate/discuss the issues facing the Sixth. His office has conveyed he is too busy to have that discussion. He’s been there a long time and it’s healthy to evaluate where we are, what has been done, and where we can go.”

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