Letter to the editor: Voting must be safe, accessible for all


The Family Unit Inc. is exceedingly grateful to the City of Sumter and to the Sumter County governments for earmarking some of the American Rescue Plan Act funding for the benefit and empowerment of low- to moderate-income mobile homeowners who own and live in their mobile homes that are older than 20 years old. Prior to this time, these homeowners have historically been excluded from any and all assistance to do necessary home repairs.

Paying attention to and focusing on improving the living conditions and well-being of people who live in poverty and despair helps our local, state and national governments to be able to foresee, plan and implement ways to make living in the City of Sumter and Sumter County, South Carolina, better for all of us.

The Family Unit Inc., while doing our "House Calls," has discovered that a significant number of low- to moderate-income individuals live in remote, rural areas that have dirt roads that when it rains for short and extended periods of time are nearly inaccessible and impassible during these times.This inaccessibility and impassibility create substantial burdens to the residents of these communities.

Gaining access is significantly difficult on the City of Sumter and on Sumter County's dirt roads in matters pertaining to medical emergencies and other urgent needs that exist in the community.

Many rural Sumter County residents complain that the roads that lead to and from their homes are very dangerous and treacherous when the rains come, causing cars to run into ditches alongside the roads.

Voters who live in rural Sumter County, South Carolina, must travel up to 12 miles to get to the Sumter County Voter Registration and Elections Office, located on North Main Street, to do absentee voting, and routinely travel at least 10 miles to arrive at their assigned polling places.

The aforementioned voters must have the time to prepare to vote. This time period is essential for the voters to arrange not only transportation, but contemplate ways to navigate dirt roads that often have huge potholes large enough to entrap vehicle wheels ... especially of small compact to medium-sized vehicles.

Knowing where district lines are and being aware of the location of new polling places are crucial pieces of information to the voting population in the city of Sumter and in remote rural areas of Sumter County.

The Sumter County administration must have adequate time to devise a plan of action for the voters who do absentee voting at the Sumter County Voter Registration and Elections Office, located at 144 N. Main St. (aka "the old courthouse"). This is a matter of special urgency in view of the fact that during the 2020 General Election, absentee voting at the old courthouse required voters to go upstairs to vote. This relocation of the voting machines caused voters to have to crowd into the only elevator in the building or either walk up stairs that were steep and wet with rainwater that was leaking from the ceiling. This made the navigation to and from the voting machines difficult, dangerous and treacherous for voters ... especially those who were disabled and elderly and who used canes, walkers and wheelchairs. To add insult to injury, the voters had no chance of social distancing, having to travel in numbers while in the lone, single elevator that the courthouse provides. This type of situation is hazardous and unwise, especially in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Sumter County administration must have better planning and adequate time to implement any new absentee voting arrangements, especially at the old courthouse, so as not to pose hazardous conditions for voters who choose to vote by way of the absentee ballot in Sumter.

Voting must be easily accessible, free, without restrictions and safe for all voters.

It is always better to be prepared for the present and especially for the future!


The Family Unit Inc., a 501(c)(3), nonprofit, charitable organization