As part of the South Carolina’s Help America Vote Act (HAVA) State Plan, the South Carolina Election Commission on May 3, 2006, announced May as Voter Education Month. Governor Mark Sanford signed a proclamation and the SC General Assembly passed a joint resolution making the declaration official. (see below)
Representatives attending the Statehouse event included individuals who will vote on their own for the first time – thanks to the accessibility provided by the new, ADA compliant, uniform voting system. Other attendees included Senator Larry Martin and Representative John Scott, both speaking on behalf of the legislative leadership who helped to make South Carolina a national leader in the election process.
In a state with over 2 million eligible voters, more than 600,000 people are not registered. Voter Education Month will include the SC Votes Tour, local events and demonstrations all aimed at encouraging everyone to vote.
“We were excited about kicking off this month of awareness and education with so many of our supporters here with us,” said Marci Andino, executive director of the S.C. Election Commission. “By sharing our story and giving South Carolinians a chance to see and touch the machines, we can ensure the success of the new system in the upcoming election.”
The June 2006 primary marks the first time that South Carolina will have in place a uniform voting system utilizing the touch screen machines – improving the current system by ensuring even greater reliability and consistency across the state. The SC Votes Tour Bus was available on the State House grounds throughout the day, allowing local residents and visitors a hands-on opportunity to try out the new electronic touch screen voting machines.
Election Commission Chairperson, Karl “Butch” Bowers noted that the event encourages all voters to get involved and work together to change registration statistics in the state. Talking with family, co-workers and neighbors goes a long way in engaging more citizen’s in the electoral process.
South Carolina is one of the first states in the country to replace all older voting technologies with new touch screen electronic systems. The change comes as South Carolina implements the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002, enacted as a response to voting problems that came to light in Florida during the 2000 presidential election. Federal funds are paying 95 percent of the cost for the new system. The remaining five percent was appropriated by the state.
For more information about the electronic touch screen voting machines, local demonstration locations or other questions about voting, explore this website or contact your county election commission.
SC Governor Mark Sanford's proclamation declaring May Voter Education Month:
Whereas the cornerstone of a democracy is an educated, informed and participatory electorate; and
Whereas, voting is an exercise of citizen power that makes the country work; and
Whereas, over 2 million South Carolinians are currently eligible to vote, an additional 830,000 are eligible but have not registered; and
Whereas, many of those registered do not regularly participate in elections; and
Whereas, all South Carolina counties will for the first time use the same voting system in the June 13 primary and November 7 general elections; and
Whereas, all eligible citizens of South Carolina should be encouraged to register to vote and every opportunity should be taken to enable them do so; and
Whereas, ensuring that all registered voters be familiar with and comfortable using new voting systems is essential to encouraging greater participation in elections; and
Whereas, the S.C. State Election Commission is in the third year of leading a voter education effort under the U.S. Help America Vote Act;
Therefore, I, Mark Sanford, Governor of the Great State of South Carolina, do hereby proclaim May 2006 as
VOTER EDUCATION MONTH
Throughout the state and encourage all eligible South Carolinians to register to vote and all registered voters to participate in voter education efforts to promote greater participation in federal, state and local elections.
The SC General Assembly's joint resolution declaring May Voter Education Month:
A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION
TO DECLARE THE MONTH OF MAY 2006 AS VOTER EDUCATION MONTH IN SOUTH CAROLINA FOR THE PURPOSE OF ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO REGISTER TO VOTE AND FOR THE PURPOSE OF EDUCATING VOTERS ON THE STATE'S NEW VOTING MACHINES TO BE USED FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ALL COUNTIES.
Whereas, to accomplish the goals of educating voters on the state's new touch screen voting machines and encouraging people to register and to vote, the General Assembly has determined by this resolution to declare May 2006 as Voter Education Month in South Carolina; and
Whereas, the right of American citizens to vote is ensured by the United States Constitution, and registering empowers citizens to vote on election day, upholding the basis of democracy with one voice, one vote; and
Whereas, the cornerstone of a democracy is an educated, informed, and participatory electorate; and
Whereas, approximately two and one-half million South Carolinians are currently registered to vote, but more than eight hundred thousand people are eligible but have not yet registered; and
Whereas, the voter registration process is easy and convenient, with applications available at county voter registration offices, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and other state agencies. It can also be accomplished online and at various locations across the Palmetto State during voter registration drives; and
Whereas, June 13, 2006, and November 7, 2006, are primary election and general election days, respectively, across South Carolina, with people casting their votes for members of Congress, state constitutional officers, county and local officials, amendments to our state's constitution, and local issues; and
Whereas, the State Election Commission is in the third year of leading a voter education effort under the United States "Help America Vote" Act; and
Whereas, all South Carolina counties for the first time will use the same voting system in the June 13 primary and November 7 general election; and
Whereas, ensuring that all registered voters are familiar with and comfortable using new voting systems is essential to encouraging greater participation in elections. Now, therefore,
Be it resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring:
That the members of the General Assembly declare the month of May 2006 as Voter Education Month in South Carolina for the purpose of encouraging people to register to vote and for the purpose of educating voters on the state's new voting machines to be used for the first time in all counties.
Be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the State Election Commission.