The season for treats ended this week as Halloween came and went – mercifully, for those of us keeping one eye on the scale. But with municipal elections in South Carolina just around the corner, tricks — at least the political kind — are still very much among us.
Electoral chicanery typically involves shenanigans with candidates’ yard signs – which, believe it or not, is a violation of S.C. Code of Laws § 7-25-210. That’s right – stealing or defacing a lawfully placed campaign sign is a crime, one potentially punishable by a $100 fine and thirty days in jail.
So remember that the next time you want to take your political rival’s sign out of a neighbor’s yard …
Every so often, things cross the line from sign pranking to more overt criminal activity. Should that happen in the closing days of the 2023 campaign, South Carolina officials are ready to roll into action.
And they’re asking for your help …
The State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) has established a special hotline for the public to report suspected cases of election fraud within the Palmetto State. You can call by clicking (833) 4SC-VOTE or (833) 472-8683 or submit documentation supporting your allegations to [email protected].
Want to go old school? You can also mail your information to SLED at the following address:
S.C. State Law Enforcement Division
Post Office Box 21398
Columbia, SC 29221
State officials take claims of election fraud very seriously. That’s why they are partnering together to make sure credible allegations are properly – and promptly – investigated.
“My top priority is ensuring the security and integrity of elections in South Carolina,” said Howie Knapp, executive director of the South Carolina Election Commission (SCVotes.gov). “Our agency has developed an unprecedented security partnership with state and federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies. When allegations of election crimes are brought to our attention, we immediately forward those allegations to SLED and the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office for investigation. Election crimes are an attack on us all and will not be tolerated.”
“Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of this country and integral to democracy,” a spokesperson at SLED told us this week. “SLED encourages anyone with information about potential fraud or interference with the upcoming elections to submit a tip through our tip line. All tips with supporting documentation will be reviewed and handled appropriately.”
While public officials stand ready to look into allegations of voter fraud, they can’t investigate matters they don’t know about. That’s why it is our responsibility as citizens to report what we see – and not only that, to document the alleged electoral violations as best we can. Remember: If you see something, say something!
And more importantly, pull out your cell phone and take a quick video or photograph to document it – or attach any other evidence you may be able to provide so investigators can quickly determine if the allegations have merit.
Municipal elections in the Palmetto State are scheduled for next Tuesday (November 7, 2023). Stay vigilant, South Carolina! The integrity of our vote depends on it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
J. Mark Powell is an award-winning former TV journalist, government communications veteran, and a political consultant. He is also an author and an avid Civil War enthusiast. Got a tip or a story idea for Mark? Email him at [email protected].
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