Early voting underway, but not in South Carolina

Election day is already here - if you live in an early-voting state. The trend seems to be to allow more early voting in many states, but not South Carolina.

In one sense, South Carolina does have an early voting law, since the state's restrictions on absentee voting are rarely enforced.

In 2008, 342,000 people cast absentee ballots in the


, according to figures from the South Carolina State Election commission. That's more than twice the number from just four years earlier.

Since absentee voting is obviously getting to be more popular, some people say the state should just go ahead and allow early voting without restrictions.

"Absolutely," said William Kelly of Myrtle Beach. "It gives people who are out of town or whatever the opportunity to cast their vote and make a decision."

But others say the voting law isn't broke, so the state shouldn't fix it.

"I don't want to see the changes. I think what we have has worked all these years," said Donna Butzer of Conway. "Why change it now?"

Coastal Carolina University political science professor Dr. Frederick Wood says South Carolina seems to be bucking the early voting trend, because the people in power in the state like the tradition of everyone voting on the same day.

While early voting is convenient and allows people to avoid long lines, it also prevents voters from changing their minds at the last minute.

Wood says there may be a compromise that would allow the state to keep tight controls on voting, while still encouraging more people to come out on a Tuesday.

"Make it a state holiday, close down state businesses, banks, allow people to actually go and vote," Wood said.

But Wood says those changes are unlikely anytime soon, without something big happening.

"It may take an election that could be a disaster, a close election, where you have a number of people who feel like they're disenfranchised. You need sort of that event to have people take a different perspective on this," Wood said.

As for fraudulent voting, Wood says absentee voter fraud is easier to do and harder to prove than in-person voting fraud, but he says you shouldn't expect the state to drag people in to question them about their votes.

"When you have about 400,000 South Carolinians use it in an election year, do you really want the state to use resources to drag in voters to question them on their votes?"

You can vote absentee in South Carolina, if you're over 65, a member of the military, or you'll be gone on election day. For a full list of criteria for voting absentee, click here.