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Election Guide 2012: South Carolina Voter Registration, Election Day Rules, & Absentee Voting

by Will Johnson
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The 2012 Election is almost upon us as South Carolina constituents line up at the polls to vote!  Here are the guidelines for Voter Registration in South Carolina along with rules pertaining to Election Day and Absentee Voting in South Carolina!

Voter Registration in South Carolina:

In order to vote, South Carolina law requires one must first register to vote at least 30 days prior to the election. To be eligible to register in South Carolina you MUST:
-be a United States citizen
-be at least eighteen years old on or before the next election
-be a resident of South Carolina, this county and precinct
-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.

A citizen who wishes to register to vote can complete a voter registration application at their county board of voter registration.

 

Voting on Election Day: South Carolina

You must have one of the following items to vote on Election Day:

  • Voter Registration Card*
  • Driver’s License
  • DMV-issued ID Card

*If you registered to vote by mail, are voting for the first time, and did not submit proof of ID with your application; you may not vote with only your voter registration card.  Additional ID, such as a driver’s license, will be required.

Polling places are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Election Day.  Anyone in line at 7:00 p.m. will be allowed to vote.

Failsafe Voting

Failsafe voting is designed to allow voters who have moved but failed to update their address to update their address on election day and vote.  Failsafe voting is available to voters in the following situations: 

  • Voter moves from one address to another within the same precinct.
  • Voter moves from one precinct to another within the same county.
  • Voter moves from one South Carolina county to another within 30 days of an election.
  • Voter moves from one state to another after the deadline to register to vote in a Presidential election in the new state of residence.

Voter moves from one address to another within the same precinct.

Voter may vote a full ballot at the precinct after completing a change of address form.

Voter moves from one precinct to another within the same county.

Voter has two options:

1.    Go to previous polling place and vote a limited, failsafe ballot containing only federal, statewide, and countywide offices.  The voter’s updated address is recorded on failsafe ballot envelope.

2.    Go to voter registration office, complete a change of address form, and vote a full ballot.

Voter moves from one South Carolina county to another within 30 days of an election

Voter has two options:

1.    Go to polling place in previous county of residence and vote a limited, failsafe ballot containing only federal, statewide, and countywide offices.  The voter’s updated address is recorded on failsafe ballot envelope.

2.    Go to voter registration office in current county of residence, complete a change of address form, and vote a full ballot.

Voter moves from one state to another after the deadline to register to vote in a Presidential election in the new state of residence.

The voter may vote an absentee ballot containing only President.  The voter should contact the appropriate absentee voting office in his previous state and county of residence.

Failsafe Voting in Municipal Elections

Failsafe voting also applies to municipal elections, with one exception:

A voter must have resided within the municipality for 30 days or more prior to the election to be eligible to vote.  So if a voter has moved from outside a specific municipality to inside that municipality and the move occurred after the 30 day mark; failsafe does not apply.

Voting Systems Used

Electronic

All 46 South Carolina counties use direct recording electronic voting machines.The voter makes his/her selections by pressing a button beside a party, candidate or issue displayed on the direct recording electronic (DRE) voting machine. After all selections have been made, the voter presses a VOTE button to cast his/her ballot.

Optical Scan

All 46 South Carolina counties use optical scan ballots for all mail-out absentee ballots. The voter shades in a block beside the name of the party, candidate or issue in which he/she wishes to vote using a marking pen or pencil.

Absentee Voting

Persons qualified to vote by absentee ballot:

  • Persons who will be on vacation outside their county of residence on Election Day
  • Members of the Uniformed Services or Merchant Marine, and their spouses and dependents residing with them
  • Persons who, for reasons of employment, will not be able to vote on election day
  • Physically disabled persons
  • Persons sixty-five years of age or older
  • Persons serving as a juror in state or federal court on Election Day
  • Persons admitted to the hospital as emergency patients on day of election or within a four-day period before the election
  • Persons with a death or funeral in the family within three days before the election
  • Persons confined to a jail or pre-trial facility pending disposition of arrest or trial
  • Persons attending sick or physically disabled persons
  • Certified poll watchers, poll managers, and county election officials working on Election Day

Procedures for voting by absentee ballot:

Qualified voters may vote absentee in person or by mail.

In Person - Visit your county voter registration office , complete an application, and cast your ballot.  You may vote absentee in person up until 5:00 p.m. on the day before the election.

By Mail

Step 1: Request an absentee application.  You can request the application online or by calling, emailing, mailing, or faxing your county voter registration office

Step 2:  You will be mailed an application, or if requesting online , you must print the application.  Complete and sign the application.

Step 3:  Return the completed application to your county voter registration office by 5:00 p.m. on the 4th day prior to the election (the 4th day is Friday for all Tuesday elections).  You may return the application in person or by mail, email, or fax. 

Step 4:  You will be mailed an absentee ballot.

Step 5:  Vote the ballot following ballot instructions and return it to your county voter registration office by 7:00 p.m. on the day of the election.  You may return the ballot personally or by mail.  You may also have another person return the ballot for you, but you must first complete an authorization to return absentee ballot form, available from your county voter registration office.

 


Additional Absentee Voting Rules:

  • Your completed absentee ballot must be placed in the “Ballots Herein” envelope provided with your absentee ballot. The “Ballots Herein” envelope will then be placed inside a “Return Envelope” which you must sign and have witnessed before returning.
  • Voters may request an absentee ballot in person, by phone (except authorized representatives), by mail, or by contacting your county voter registration office in the county in which you are registered. County Voter Registration Contact Information.
  • The voter, a member of the voter’s immediate family, or the voter’s authorized representative may request the absentee ballot application.  An authorized representative is a registered voter who, with a voter’s permission, can request an absentee ballot application on behalf of a voter who qualifies because of illness or disability. Candidates and paid campaign workers may not serve as authorized representatives.
  • Voters admitted to the hospital as an emergency patient on the day of the election or within four days of the election can have an immediate family member apply and carry a ballot to the voter.
  • To have your absentee ballot returned by a person other than yourself, it is necessary for the absentee voter to compete an “Authorization to Return Absentee Ballot Form”. The absentee voter completes Part I, and the person returning the ballot completes Part II of the form. Candidates and paid campaign workers may not return absentee ballots unless they are an immediate family member of the voter.
  • State law requires the voter to sign the application for an absentee ballot and oath on the envelope used to return the absentee ballot.  A “power of attorney” is not applicable for voting.  Voters unable to write because of physical handicap or illiteracy may receive help in applying for and marking their ballot. The voter must make his/her mark and have the mark witnessed by someone chosen by the voter. 
  • For more information regarding voter registration and absentee voting, contact your County Voter Registration Office.
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