Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:
Rethinking contract negotiations at our state-funded schools
There are winners and there are losers.
But in the corporate and sports world, even losers are winners.
Surely you have read stories about CEOs of large corporations whose governing board asked them to leave because the company was failing miserably.
While there might have been some shame in the departure, they were not merely shown the door. No, they were able to leave with a briefcase full of stock options and mega-million-dollar contract buyouts.
Closer to home, you have read that the University of South Carolina and its football coach, Will Muschamp, have parted company. And during a COVID-filled year that has dammed up every sports program's revenue stream, Muschamp will leave with more than enough money to build a house on Clayton Lake where he can grill out with Nick Saban and talk football strategies. If Nick will give him the time.
Muschamp came to Carolina from Florida, where his coaching record was equally impressive and his go-away dollars hardly something you could call chump (or champ) change.
Really, it's hard to blame the coaches and CEOs. They came, they tried, they left. But before they came, they made sure they arrived with ample security in terms of dollars. Who among us wouldn't still feel pretty good going home to the spouse and saying, "Honey, I got fired today. We're gonna have to scrape by on $13.5 million now."
Perhaps corporations, and colleges and universities - especially state-funded ones - ought to rethink their game plans when it comes to contract negotiations.
If crime doesn't pay, how does it make sense that driving a corporation or sports team into the ground does pay?
The Times and Democrat
Vice President-elect Harris makes history
Whether you call her vice president-elect yet or not, Kamala Harris is nearly certain to make history in January when she becomes the first female, first Black and first South Asian to hold the second-highest elected office in the United States.
Women across the country long have fought for equal rights and representation in America. With the election of Harris, a milestone has been reached. It could not have come in a more appropriate year - the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in 1920.
As noted by CNN, Harris' triumph marks a high point in a career in which she has broken barriers before as San Francisco district attorney, California attorney general and just the second-ever Black female U.S. senator.
"That I am here tonight is a testament to the dedication of generations before me," Harris said during her Democratic National Convention acceptance speech in August. "Women and men who believed so fiercely in the promise of equality, liberty and justice for all."
On Nov. 7, during her first speech after being declared by the media as vice president-elect, Harris again noted the historic moment.
"While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last," she said in Wilmington, Delaware.
"Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities, and to the children of our country, regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message: Dream with ambition, lead with conviction and see yourselves in a way that others may not, simply because they've never seen it before. But know that we will applaud you every step of the way," she said.
And we join in applauding Harris, echoing the statement of the S.C. Legislative Black Caucus and its chairman, Orangeburg Rep. Jerry Govan, about Biden, Harris and election 2020.
"With this election, America begins a new chapter - a chapter that, in many ways, was written in South Carolina. President-elect Biden has strong ties to the Palmetto State, and it was with the support of Black South Carolinians that he secured the Democratic nomination for president.
"Vice President-elect Harris will make history as the first woman, first African-American, and first person of South Asian descent to hold the office of vice president. This is a huge achievement and an inspiration to so many people. She is living proof that there is no limit to what one can accomplish, regardless of gender, ethnicity or faith."
The Post and Courier
Making expanded absentee voting a permanent practice
With a pandemic still raging, the S.C. Legislature made the wise decision this fall to allow all registered voters to cast absentee ballots in this year's general election. Lawmakers didn't set about to conduct an experiment in making voting easier for voters - and over time less expensive for taxpayers - but it served as one nonetheless.
And now that the experiment is complete, the results are clear:
- No one has alleged, even without evidence, that South Carolina's voting was tinged by fraud - not even that small handful of Republican lawmakers who were lining up after the election to complain about vote-stealing Democrats in other states.
- South Carolina did not drown in a blue wave, as some lawmakers apparently worried. To the contrary, voters doubled down on their Republican preferences.
- Absentee voting didn't cause massive technical problems; there were some delays in getting all the votes counted, but they had to do with procedures that weren't updated sufficiently to account for more absentee voting and, more importantly, the switch from an electronic to a paper voting system.
- And voters clearly liked the idea. Half of all the votes in South Carolina were cast before Election Day. That's more than double the portion and nearly three times the number four years ago, when you had to be old or sick or have one of a handful of other legally defined excuses to cast an absentee ballot.
Beyond benefiting themselves, what 1.3 million S.C. voters did by casting their votes early was allow election officials to keep the waiting time much shorter than it otherwise would have been - without having to resort to the traditional method of shortening the wait time: spending tax money to purchase additional voting equipment and hiring even more poll workers.
That would always be a good result, but it was even more important in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, where our odds of becoming infected with COVID-19 increase the longer we are around other people, particularly in crowds.
Indeed, it's the simple economics of that matter - certainly not any desire to end the ritual of communities turning out together to cast their votes on a single day - that inspired us even before the pandemic to advocate allowing all S.C. voters to cast absentee ballots.
Another reason: Those long waits that inevitably result from too many people trying to use too few voting machines cause a hardship for voters who have to return to work or stay on a child-care schedule. Allowing all voters to cast their ballots by mail or in person before Election Day puts everybody on an equal footing with retirees, state government employees (who automatically get the day off) and those of us who have the luxury of flexible work hours.
It's true that, as was the case across the country, South Carolina saw a decided partisan split in this year's voting methods: There were nearly 790,000 votes for President Donald Trump and 370,000 for Joe Biden on Election Day but the reverse - 265,000 for Mr. Biden and 170,000 for Mr. Trump - by mail. In-person absentee voters showed a slight Biden preference: 455,000 to 425,000.
We suspect that has more to do with conditions specific to this year's election - namely the president's efforts to encourage Election Day voting and the greater likelihood that Biden supporters would want to limit their potential COVID exposure by voting by mail - than any long-lasting feelings about voting absentee. After all, the S.C. Republican Party has been making a huge effort in recent years to convince its most reliable voters to cast absentee ballots.
More than 500,000 South Carolinians voted for President Trump in advance, and even if absentee voting were to become a predominately Democratic preference, the process still would benefit all the Republicans who vote on Election Day by shortening their wait times, as happened on Nov. 3.
In other words, expanded absentee voting helps everybody, regardless of party preference. And it does so without increasing the cost of elections.
That's why most Republicans and Democrats in our Legislature have supported bills to permanently expand absentee voting in years past. The bills have never become law, though, because lawmakers disagreed over the precise rules.
What this experiment demonstrated is that while there are tweaks that could make the system better, even a simple expansion like this one would save our state money and save our voters time, without exposing our election system to fraud. It also demonstrated that lawmakers should make a permanent absentee-for-all voting system one of their top priorities in the 2021 legislative session.
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