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Lobbyists seek to change ban on Election Day alcohol sales

Posted: May 20, 2014 - 6:16pm

COLUMBIA — South Carolina is the last state to ban the sale of alcohol on election day, but lawmakers are taking steps to change that.

The current law forcing closures causes retailers to lose $1.1 million and state tax coffers to forgo $105,000, Distilled Spirits Council lobbyist William Kinney told a Senate subcommittee Thursday. “While that may be relatively small, it is an impact on business and an impact on employees,” said Kinney, adding that voter turnout does not appear to be affected.

Lynn Murray, advocating for spirits manufacturer Diageo, also testified in favor of the bill and called the current election day closures archaic. Part of the negotiations centered around allowing a mandatory Christmas Day closure while removing the election day closure.

Baylen Moore, a lobbyist for Total Wine, also backed the proposal and urged lawmakers to drop the Christmas Day closure, which was included as a compromise.

He said most smaller liquor stores support holiday closures, because store owners want to close on those days, but they don’t want their competition to best them by choosing to stay open.

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