Remarks given yesterday by Sen. Mia McLeod in the SC Senate. The Senate convened to discuss protections for voters on Nov. 3. Prior to convening, Sens. McLeod & Harpootlian urged their colleagues to protect S.C. voters.
"I don’t come to the well often. In fact, this is the first time I’ve been back to this chamber since we abruptly adjourned in March, shortly after this global pandemic was announced.
I think South Carolina was anticipating about 8,000 coronavirus cases by August... which, at the time, seemed like a lot. But, by the beginning of August, we actually had probably 10x that many cases and too many deaths.
And over the past 5 months, each of us has lost someone we know or someone we love to this deadly virus and yet, we’re still playing Russian roulette instead of figuring out a way for those of us who have preexisting health conditions or those who are of advanced age to safely participate in the legislative and elections processes.
We say we’re family, but families look out for each other. Families protect each other.
How can we say we’re family when we know that each time we reconvene in this chamber...in this building...we’re risking the lives of our own family members? And I’m not just talking about us. I’m talking about our staff members and their families, too.
Many of them are risking their lives to be here, just like I am. Why does it take death for us to make even the smallest changes?
Now that we know the pain of losing loved ones, how can we even debate the fact that additional safety measures must be taken to protect our constituents and community members when they go to their polling places this November?
Exercising our Constitutional right to vote should be fiercely protected at all costs...at all times...especially during a deadly pandemic that continues to wreak havoc on our state’s most vulnerable.
I came to this well earlier this year because we lost a dear colleague and friend to sickle cell anemia. She and I had that disease in common. And what you may not know about battles with sickle cell is that I’ve had pneumonia at least four times over the course of my life...some of those times were near-death experiences. I’ve also had other complications of sickle cell. Blood clots and a stroke 5 years ago.
What we now know about COVID-19 is that it causes all of those life-threatening complications—even for some who have no preexisting conditions like sickle cell.
Imagine the concerns of voters across S.C. who will have to make a life or death decision in November if we don’t do the right thing today. We say we’re family...let’s do what families do.
Let’s protect each other."