SOUTH CAROLINA (WBTV) - Changes are in place in South Carolina this year as residents vote in an election during a pandemic.
Governor Henry McMaster signed a bill to allow all voters to cast absentee ballots due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill is similar to what was signed into law for the June primaries. It will allow every registered voter in the state to vote absentee.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: Absentee witness signatures are now required. The Supreme Court granted a request by South Carolina election officials to reinstate the witness signature requirement on absentee ballots. The decision was made pending appeal, and announced October 6.
While the high court reinstated the requirement as a lawsuit over it proceeds, voters have already started returning ballots. As an exception, the court says that any ballots cast before the court’s action the evening of October 6, “and received within two days of this order may not be rejected for failing to comply with the witness requirement.”
The deadline to register in-person, online or by email and fax for the 2020 General Election has passed. October 5 was the deadline for South Carolina residents to register to vote by mail. Registration by mail applications needed to be postmarked at least 30 days prior to the election, which was October 5.
To be eligible to register in South Carolina, voters must:
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Be at least 18 years old on or before the next election
- Be a resident of South Carolina in the county and precinct in which you are registering
- Not be under a court order declaring you mentally incompetent
- Not be confined in any public prison resulting from a conviction of a crime
- Have never been convicted of a felony or offense against the election laws OR if previously convicted, have served the entire sentence, including probation or parole, or have received a pardon for the conviction.
CHECK/UPDATE VOTER REGISTRATION
Click here to check your voter registration.
If your voter registration information has changed (name, address, etc.), and you still live within the same county, you may update your voter registration information using this form. If you have moved to a different county, you will need to re-register in your new county.
College students may vote where they reside while attending school. The address could be a dormitory address or an address the student intends to return to while not in the college community. Click here for guidance on determining what residence to claim for voter registration purposes.
College students who live on campus and receive their mail at a campus post office box must register at the physical address of their dormitory.
Any person who is convicted of a felony or an offense against the election laws is not qualified to register or to vote, unless the disqualification has been removed by service of the sentence, or unless sooner pardoned, S.C. government officials say.
Voters have 20 days from the date the notice is mailed to appeal. Appeals must be made to the SEC.
Once a person who was convicted of a felony or offense against the election laws serves their sentence, they may register to vote. To register, the applicant must submit a new voter registration application to his county voter registration office.
All voters are now qualified to vote absentee under the “State of Emergency” reason. Applications must be received by the voter registration office by 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 24.
In-person absentee voting started Monday, October 5:
Step 1: Visit your county voter registration office or extension office. (Begins no later than Monday, October 5. Ends 5 p.m., Monday, November 2.)
Step 2: Complete an application.
Step 3. Cast your ballot.
Click here for precincts and polling places
Step 1: Get your application Either by printing online or by calling or emailing your county voter registration office and requesting the application by mail. A member of a voter’s immediate family or Authorized Representative can also request the application.
Step 2: Complete, sign and return the application to your county voter registration office.
- Return by mail, email, fax or personal delivery.
- Return as soon as possible and no later than 5 p.m., Saturday, October 24.
Step 3: Receive your absentee ballot in the mail.
Step 4: Vote and return the ballot to your county voter registration office or extension office.
- Be sure to sign the voter’s oath. As of October 6, a witness signature is now required for mail-in ballots.
- Return your ballot either by mail, personal delivery or authorized returnee
- Your ballot must be received by 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 3.
- If returning your ballot by mail, mail it as soon as possible, preferably a week before election day, to help ensure timely delivery.
- You can check the status of your absentee ballot at scVOTES.gov.
Assistance in marking a ballot is allowed only if the voter is blind, illiterate or physically handicapped. A voter entitled to receive assistance may choose anyone to assist except his employer, agent of his employer, or an officer or agent of his union.
Any voter who, because of physical handicap or age (65 or older), cannot enter the polling place in which he is registered to vote, or is unable to stand in line to vote, may vote outside that polling place in the closest available parking area utilizing the vehicle in which he has driven or has been driven to the polls, S.C. government officials say.
Click here for instructions for voters who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Military and oversees citizens
Military and overseas citizens are provided with special procedures and protections under federal and state law for voter registration and voting.
Who is covered?
- U.S. citizens residing outside the United States
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces
- Members of the U.S. Merchant Marine
- Persons serving with the American Red Cross or United Service Organization (USO) attached to and serving with the Armed Forces of the U.S. outside the person’s county of residence
- A member or employee of any department of the U.S. Government serving overseas
- An eligible spouse or dependent of an eligible person
The easiest way to vote as a UOCAVA voter is to use the Electronic Voting Accessibility Tool (EVAT). The tool allows UOCAVA voters to upload their Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), get their ballot, mark their ballot, and print their ballot. The voter then returns their ballot by mail, fax, or email.
COVID-19 SAFETY MEASURES
The SEC and county election officials say they’re taking steps to make polling places as safe as possible for voters and poll managers:
- Managers will receive special training on sanitizing surfaces and applying social distancing concepts.
- Managers will be equipped with masks, face shields and gloves.
- Managers will be provided with sanitizing wipes and will regularly clean common surfaces throughout the day.
- Check-in stations and voting equipment will be spaced to keep voters and managers at least six feet apart.
- Hand sanitizer will be provided for voters and managers.
- Voters will be provided with a cotton swab for making selections on the touchscreen.
- Voters are asked to wear their own mask if they have one and to bring their own pen for signing the poll list.
Click here for General Election FAQ in S.C.