Republican official criticizes Beaufort election director for 'complaining' about application glut

A state GOP official criticized a Beaufort County election official for "complaining" to the media about a packet of 486 absentee-ballot application requests delivered last week, just weeks before Election Day.

  • "Election officials are there to make sure that the voting process is secure and accessible," said Joel Sawyer, executive director of the S.C. Republican Party. "People voting absentee should be a good thing. Instead, we have an election official complaining in Beaufort because he's got more work to do."
  • The application requests arrived Oct. 13 from South Carolina Victory 2010, an offshoot of the state Republican Party, some postmarked as early as Sept. 15, said Scott Marshall, executive director of the Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration and Elections.

    Those requests were processed within about two days, Marshall said.

    Marshall said he was trying to make the point that using third parties such as S.C. Victory 2010 to request applications can sometimes slow the process for the voter.

    "The issue was never the number of ballots," Marshall said. "It's not the number. It's the fact that (S.C Victory 2010) wants to insert itself in the process and slow it down for the voter. You're not helping the voter then."

    By law, applications for absentee ballots must reach the county board of elections four days before Election Day -- this year by 5 p.m. Oct. 29.

    Marshall's office will mail the application requests within a day or so, he said, but the applications must be filled out and returned. Only then can an absentee ballot be sent to the voter, who must then fill it out and return it to Marshall's office by 7 p.m. Election Day, Nov. 2.