It's no secret the 2020 election was controversial. Election laws and procedures were thrown out the window in the middle of a pandemic, causing confusion and distrust surrounding the results in several states across the country. As a result, people are paying closer attention to how elections are conducted in their own states.
Fortunately, here in South Carolina, we didn't have the problems that other states had. Mainly because when Democrats brought their nationally orchestrated effort to try and sue their way to victory here, the South Carolina Republican Party (SCGOP) immediately fought back against those efforts in our state.
That's the first lesson for Republicans: You need to be ready to defend election integrity immediately. No matter what — no matter who gets squeamish about it.
Within 24 hours of those suits being filed, we had a plan to intervene and fight back in court. Ultimately, the SCGOP fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and won a complete and total victory. As a direct result, our election laws were protected before votes were cast.
Unfortunately, other states didn't do the same, and election laws were cast aside by judges or bureaucrats. In many cases, voting had already started when Republicans in other states began fighting back. That hesitancy cost them dearly.
But just because South Carolina didn't have problems that other states did in 2020, doesn't mean it couldn't in the future. So, starting at the beginning of the legislative session after the 2020 election, the SCGOP began working with state legislators to help tighten South Carolina's election laws to prevent what happened in other states.
That brings us to the second lesson: Use the energy that heightened awareness brings to make necessary changes. As a member of the Republican National Committee's Election Integrity Committee, I had a firsthand account to what went right and what went wrong across the country in the 2020 election.
Using that information, we created a list of items the SCGOP wanted to see in an election integrity bill for South Carolina. Ultimately, a strong bill passed and was signed into law that included virtually every one of those items.
The new law is full of common-sense measures that make it easy to vote but hard to cheat by banning drop boxes, banning ballot harvesting, and banning third-party dark money, like so-called "Zuckerbucks" from Facebook, from being given to local election commissions.
Additionally, the law now requires the last four digits of a voter's Social Security number to vote via absentee ballot, and requires a witness to sign, print their name, and provide their address to witness a mail-in absentee ballot. It also requires more thorough and frequent voter-roll cleanups, as well as requiring post-election audits be conducted before a statewide election can be certified.
Another critical provision from the law mandates uniformity among counties by placing local election commissions under the authority of the State Election Commission. Requiring uniformity ensures that every vote is being cast and counted under the exact same standards across the state.
But before these reforms were signed into law, the SCGOP was working to make them become reality, which brings us to the third lesson for Republicans: When you're in charge, be in charge.
Supporters not only appreciate it, they expect it.
When the SCGOP unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Legislature to pass a bill with these reforms, we didn't stop there. We worked with legislators on specific language, and then equipped our supporters to become grassroots lobbyists to help get it passed.
It's another example of the rule that "elections have consequences." By electing South Carolina's biggest Republican majority in more than 140 years in 2020, we were able to pass what several organizations have deemed the most comprehensive and secure election law in the country.
Importantly, that's something Republicans need to keep in mind as we look toward reaping an electoral harvest from a potential red tsunami this November. Our supporters will want us to be in charge and deliver results.
It's one of the "consequences" of winning. We need to be ready and be bold — especially when it comes to defending our elections.
Drew McKissick has served as the State Chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party since 2017. He serves on the RNC's Election Integrity Committee and Presidential Nominating Committee.
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