Strengthening election integrity

It’s been a busy week.

Free, fair, and secure elections strengthen public confidence in electoral institutions and give efficacy and legitimacy to our democracy.

I cosponsored H. 4919 to improve and fortify the integrity of our election system by combating voter fraud and inconsistencies in the way elections are held in each county.

On Wednesday, the bill received full bipartisan support, with a unanimous 114-0 vote.

Here are some of the safeguards, protections and improvements to the election process that are in the bill:

Makes election fraud a felony and creates a SLED hotline to report suspicious activity at the polls.

Requires the witness of every absentee ballot to be verifiable by providing a printed name, signature, and address.

Improves cybersecurity, by ensuring ballot machines will never be connected to the Internet.

Creates an ‘early voting’ system, which extends two weeks before an election for all qualified voters.

Allows absentee ballots to be opened before the election for quicker election results when polls close, but makes disclosing information about results a punishable offense.

It was my pleasure to meet with the Leadership Georgetown County class at the State House this week. Sponsored by the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce, this great program focuses on leadership development and community awareness and service.

Wednesday was Nurse Practitioner Day at the State House and an opportunity to meet with nurse practitioners from around the state to hear their concerns about their profession and healthcare. I appreciate their dedication to patients and the difficulty of their work during the pandemic.

My thanks to Jon Tester for his kind letter to the editor about my support for including substantial teacher pay raises in the House budget bill. South Carolina is facing an unprecedented teacher shortage, only to be made worse by pandemic conditions. More and more teachers are leaving the profession. These pay raises can help retain teachers.

We’re at about the midpoint of the legislative session and we’ll begin to debate the state budget bill, which contains raises for teachers and law enforcement officers, on the House floor soon.

It’s an honor to represent District 108 in the House. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

Rep. Lee Hewitt

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