A House panel approved a bill that would lift the ban on liquor sales on Election Day and end the governor's ability to close stores on holidays.
South Carolina is the last state in the country that bans liquor sales on Election Day.
The Election Day ban costs S.C. merchants an estimated $1.1 million in sales and the state about $105,000 in taxes, said the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, which along with the Total Wine chain and spirits giant Diageo backed the bill.
S.C. restaurants and bars can serve alcohol on Election Day but not retail stores. Election Day liquor sale bans date back to Colonial times, when taverns were polling places and voters were bribed with drinks, historians said.
A bill lifting the Election Day ban passed the S.C. House in the previous legislative session but did not get far in the state Senate. That proposal would have halted liquor sales only on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Governors can order stores closed on holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas as they have in the past, even though state law does not require it. The new bill also would end that.
Gov. Nikki Haley has not issued an executive order to close liquor stores since starting her term in 2011.