New law allows liquor sales on Election Day, not Christmas

Published: Nov. 3, 2014 at 10:22 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 3, 2014 at 11:32 PM EST
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In exchange for Election Day, liquor stores will be closed Christmas Day.
In exchange for Election Day, liquor stores will be closed Christmas Day.

Myrtle Beach, SC (WMBF) - Every Election Day, schools, churches, and community centers are flooded with people casting votes.

One place that's never crawling with people: liquor stores. For more than 100 years, it was illegal to sell alcohol on an Election Day.

"You could buy beer, wine, champagne at a grocery store, but you just couldn't get anything at the liquor store. But it all gets you drunk," said Wesley Cook, with Commons Discount Liquors.

The law was set in place in the 1880s to avoid voter fraud. At that time, polling locations were sometimes in saloons, and politicians used it to their advantage.

"The more liquor you could sell, the more votes you'd get, so people used to stand in line at the bar. They used to come in, put their X next to a name, and they get a shot," said Barry Morrison, who is at Discount Beverage.

In July, South Carolina changed the law, making it the last state to get rid of Election Day liquor bans. In exchange, liquor stores can no longer open on Christmas.

"I think that was another holiday that really didn't matter because most places were closed," said Cook.

Wesley Cook with common discount liquor has no problems with the switch. He, along with many others, do think there should be one change though.

"They should open at 11 and bring it to 9 at night," Cook said.

"We're still antiquated, as far as we have to close at 7 o'clock," agreed Morrison.

Both men say, everyday they hear from customers about how unhappy they are with the hours the state enforces.

Since liquor stores have to close at 7 p.m., they say it makes it hard for people just getting off work to get a drink. Tourists also become very confused with the early close.

"In Myrtle Beach, especially on Friday and Saturday night when tourists come to town. [Tourists] figure they'll go out, they'll have dinner, get settled, come in later and then it's Saturday night. [There are] no sales on Sunday so they're a little upset," said Morrison.

Under the new law, if a store sells liquor on Christmas from now on, it's a $200 fine or 60 days in prison.

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