South Carolina editorial roundup: Friday, Oct. 9, 2020


Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

The Times and Democrat

Oct. 7

Contributions of manufacturers and newspapers are celebrated

It is fitting that National Newspaper Week and South Carolina Manufacturing Week fall during this same week in October.

Manufacturing is vital to South Carolina and Orangeburg. The purpose of South Carolina Manufacturing Week is to raise awareness of the achievements and opportunities that industry provides throughout the state.

Manufacturing and industry have always been a major component of Orangeburg County's economy. From aerospace to automobiles to lawn mowers to chemicals, Orangeburg County makes things.

The county boasts a diverse industrial landscape of more than 100 firms, with manufacturers employing more than 8,200. About 19% of the county's population works in manufacturing. Manufacturing is the largest sector of the county's workforce, and the county is among the state leaders in the largest percentage of its workforce in manufacturing.

You may not consider it often, but this newspaper is a manufacturer. We create a daily product using heavy machinery, the printing press. And our product is shipped out daily directly to consumers.

While we do not "manufacture" the news that goes into our print and online products, we have journalists and others working hard on the content that is found in the daily The Times and Democrat and at

And in a way unlike any other manufacturer, we play a unique role in the community, providing information about its people, its businesses, its health, its education, its activities - its successes and its failures. Without the local newspaper, there would be no reporters providing information on local government and the people we elect to lead us. There would be no reports on threats to public safety and how crimes are resolved by police and the courts.

A local newspaper such as The Times and Democrat is a vital player in the community. But these are tough times for local journalism. The pandemic has cut into primary revenue streams such as local advertising. At a time when news is needed more than ever, our ability to deliver it is being tested.

The loss of three local weekly newspapers in our region this past week is testament to what is happening. And though The T&D has a greater audience than ever via its print and online products, we face challenges and need support via print and online subscriptions and local advertising.

We are a healthy enterprise and work hard to stay that way. We plan to continue being a part of a community and region that we have served for nearly 140 years.

So join us in making a commitment to supporting local news during National Newspaper Week when we also say thank you to all manufacturers playing a vital role in our economy.

The Post and Courier

Oct. 7

Ruling requires witness signatures on mail-in ballots

It is outrageous that we find ourselves in this situation.

With just four weeks before Election Day, record numbers of South Carolinians planning to cast absentee ballots by mail and thousands having already done so, the U.S. Supreme Court changed the voting requirements - again - ruling Monday evening that we do in fact have to include a witness signature with our mail-in ballots.

It's the fourth reversal - sixth if you include the fact that we had a temporary change for the June primaries. And it's still technically possible that the order keeping the signature requirement in place could be changed yet again: Although the high court essentially overturned the 4th Circuit Court's order overturning a three-judge panel's order overturning a lower court judge's order overturning state law (which she had temporarily overturned for the primaries), that decision was itself a temporary one, to maintain the status quo until the 4th Circuit can hear the case on its merits. Which it might or might not do before Nov. 3.

Although critics will note that the Monday ruling was about which temporary position the courts should take, the fact is that judges at any level consider the likely outcome of a case when they decide whether to issue temporary orders. And the Supreme Court by its unanimous order has implied that the law doesn't violate the U.S. Constitution - which is the only legitimate reason for a court to overturn it.

It's tempting to blame the courts for this mess. But each court has moved quickly to resolve the matter; each one simply reached a different legal conclusion.

We don't want to believe that this dizzying whirlwind of flip-flopping court rulings is the outcome of a cynical effort by Republican party officials to inject confusion into the election process, in hopes of discouraging people from trying to vote. What we do believe - in fact, what we know for certain - is that we wouldn't be in this situation if the Legislature had eliminated the witness requirement. As we have argued for months, the requirement is of no use, since all election officials check is whether a signature is present - not whether it's the valid signature of an actual human being.

When the Legislature returns to work in January, we need to insist that it eliminate this unnecessary requirement and make permanent the temporary law it passed last month to allow all registered voters to cast an absentee ballot.

That's January, though. For now, we reiterate what we said after U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs' initial ruling: If you're mailing in your absentee ballot or hand-delivering the completed ballot to election officials, get someone besides yourself to sign the envelope. Without a second signature on the back of your envelope, your ballot will not be counted.

We can't be 100% certain what will be required by the time the ballots are counted, but there is no possibility that you will be penalized for having an extra signature that isn't needed.

The fact is that nearly everyone in this state is capable of getting that signature without exposing themselves or others to COVID-19 infection. For those rare exceptions, the state Democratic Party and others who brought the lawsuit could pull together a program where people can have a volunteer come to their home and sign their envelope, perhaps from afar. And they should.

And again, just to be clear: You do need that signature. You do not, however, need a signature if you cast an in-person absentee ballot. Then, you just need to show up at one of the locations your county election commission has opened, with a picture ID, plenty of patience and your mask - to keep yourself and others safe.

The Index-Journal

Oct. 6

Restaurant patrons, owners should still use common sense

Cautiously optimistic describes our reaction to Gov. Henry McMaster's executive order last Friday, which lifts occupancy restrictions on restaurants, which had been ordered to be at 50%.

While we fully understand the desire to return to business as usual as much as possible in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we do not think the state is ready to take a Floridian approach to the pandemic.

But our cautious optimism is based on the premise that restaurant owners and employees, as well as customers, will heed the governor's advice. Of course, we fully realize that the governor has heaped plenty of confidence in residents' willingness to exercise common sense and, essentially, do all the right things, from wearing face masks to social distancing, from using hand sanitizer to frequent hand washing.

There is no reason to believe we are completely out of the woods. Football teams are but one good example to reflect that we are not done with the virus by any means. So why should we be so confident that reopening restaurants to full capacity dining - in enclosed spaces where the same people are gathered for about an hour and breathing the same air - will somehow be different? Once seated, the masks come off the patrons.

Look, we have agonized too over the dining and other restrictions, but everyone needs to do their level best to ensure the numbers decline, not spike. We implore restaurant owners and managers to maintain some distance between tables and keep the outdoor dining available as long as possible, even as cooler days and nights approach.

Patrons and restaurant operators need to exercise the common sense the governor has asked of us all.