Lancaster County, S.C. voters to decide on alcohol referendum

by: Greg Suskin Updated:


LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. - Elissa Boyet said she was mortified when she moved to Indian Land in Lancaster County, only to learn that she couldn't have a drink in a restaurant on Sunday.

"I was thinking, ‘Why aren't we in the 21st century? Why don't people have a choice?’" she said.

She spent the last year spearheading a campaign to allow alcohol sales in restaurants Sunday. 

In 2011, she helped collect 4,800 signatures on a petition to get the issue on the ballot.

Lancaster County only recently suspended its “Blue Laws,” which prohibited certain items from being sold in stores before 1 pm. Sunday.

Now, some in the county say promoting alcohol sales on Sunday to encourage new business is the next step.

"It’s very important. We don't have anywhere to go and eat," Boyet said. 

She claims several chain restaurants will build here if voters approve the measure.

However, opponents of Sunday sales are questioning how supporters have run their campaign. 

Campaign signs promoting Sunday alcohol sales don't use the word “Sunday” or “alcohol.”

To the Rev. Scott Robinson of Crestview Baptist Church that's deliberately misleading.

"The signs say 'Vote yes -- Citizens and Business for Lancaster County.'  I’ve been in Lancaster County all my life. They don't' represent me," he said.

Robinson is leading the opposition to Sunday sales, pointing to alcohol as a negative influence that destroys families and breaks up marriages.

"I’ve seen enough of the finished product of what alcohol can do," he said.  "I oppose it seven days a week."

 Boyet tells Channel 9 the campaign signs and theme were lifted directly from York County's successful campaign three years ago, and nothing was changed.

"It’s not deceptive," Boyet said. "We hope that what worked for them will also work for us."

However, it's not only the campaign signs raising concerns, but the ballot itself.  Opponents claim it's confusing to voters.

Here is what voters will see on the Sunday alcohol question:

"Shall the South Carolina Department of Revenue be authorized to issue temporary permits in this county for a period not to exceed twenty four hours to allow the possession, sale and consumption of alcoholic liquors by the drink to bona fide nonprofit organizations and business establishments otherwise authorized to be licensed for consumption on premises sales?"

"They don't tell us what people are voting for or against," Robinson said

However, that legal language has been used in several other South Carolina counties that have voted on similar measures, including York, Greenville and Charleston.

In York County, voters will decide on another alcohol-related issue: Whether or not to allow convenience stores and supermarkets to sell beer and wine on Sunday.

Sunday alcohol sales in restaurants are already legal there.