Voting: What You Need To Know
by Chloe Holowczenko, WREN Policy and Programs Assistant on Sep 30, 2020
Voting: The one thing on everyone’s minds and coming up awfully quick.
In 33 days, on November 3rd, Americans will cast their vote under unprecedented conditions. In the midst of a deadly pandemic, with unpredictable or non-existent childcare, and while juggling work, school, and personal responsibilities, we must take action to maintain our democracy and human rights.
In-person absentee voting begins statewide on October 5, 2020. Voting will occur at all county election offices and at extension locations established by those county offices. A complete list of those locations is available at www.SCVotes.gov.
The League of Women Voters (LWV) has written a quick summary of the changes made by the South Carolina General Assembly which can be found below.
- Absentee voting eligibility is expanded to include all-qualified electors in South Carolina. This includes both voting absentee by mail and early in-person absentee voting. The bill specifies that in-person voting will begin on October 5, 2020.
- If a mail ballot is obtained, it can be filled out and handed over to an official at a county or satellite election office, but not at ordinary polling places on election day.
We are now assured that all-qualified voters in South Carolina can choose how to vote in 2020; whether that’s absentee by mail, absentee in-person or in-person on Election Day.
Voting in Person
When: 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.
Where: You can find your precinct location here.
Who can vote absentee? All SC voters in 2020.
H.5305/R.149, signed into law on September 16, 2020, made significant changes to absentee voting rules for the November 3, 2020 General Election.
- All voters are now qualified to vote absentee under the “State of Emergency” reason.
- Deadline to apply for an absentee by mail ballot:
- Applications for absentee-by-mail ballots must be received by the voter registration office by 5:00 p.m., Saturday, October 24, 2020.
- An Authorized Representative acting on behalf of a voter who is unable to go to the polls due to an illness or disability may return the application by 5:00 p.m., Friday, October 30.
How to Vote Absentee in the 2020 General Election
Qualified voters can vote absentee in person or by mail. Photo ID is required to vote absentee in person. Photo ID is not required to vote absentee by mail. More information about the photo ID requirements can be found here.
Step 1: Visit your county voter registration office or extension office.
- Begins Monday, October 5.
- Ends 5:00 p.m., Monday, November 2.
Step 2: Complete an application.
Step 3: Cast your ballot.
Step 1: Get your application (available now).
Get the application online. You must be able to print your application.
Call or email your county voter registration office. You will be mailed an application.
- A member of a voter’s immediate family or Authorized Representative can also request the application (see Authorized Representative at www.scvotes.gov/new-absentee-rules-2020-general-election).
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 5:00 p.m., Saturday, October 24.
- An Authorized Representative must return the application by 5:00 p.m., Friday, October 30 (see Authorized Representative information at www.scvotes.gov/new-absentee-rules-2020-general-election).
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.
- Return your ballot either by mail, personal delivery or authorized returnee (see Authorized Returnee information at www.scvotes.gov/new-absentee-rules-2020-general-election).
- Your ballot must be received by 7:00 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 here.
South Carolina has a good system for answering questions and managing absentee-by-mail voting at www.SCVotes.gov, but the internet isn’t helpful for those who don’t have access. The Richland County Library has WiFi available and accessible from the parking lots at all of the locations, except Sandhills, provides stamped voter registration forms at locations with pick-up windows (Ballenine, Northeast, Sandhills, St. Andrews), and will print absentee ballots upon request.
You can visit this voter-help page to check your registration or to register to vote, today. Our political systems only work if we all participate.
- www.vote411.org provides easy access to election information including candidate responses to questions on important issues, upcoming candidate forums, portals to check voter registration, sample ballots, polling places, and more.
- Root and Rebound has a great one-page guide to the voting rights of the formerly incarcerated that is available here. People in South Carolina who have a criminal record are eligible to vote if they have completed their sentence; meaning, they are out of jail for a misdemeanor or have completed parole or probation.
- www.scelectioncenter.com – insert graphic
- The National Election Protection Hotline number is 1-866-OUR-VOTE.
If you are registered to vote and prepared to cast your ballot, please remind friends, family, coworkers, peers, etc., to register to vote in-person by October 2, 2020, online at www.SCvotes.gov by October 4, 2020 or by mail – postmarked by October 5, 2020.
Thank you to the League of Women Voters for contributing the content to this blog and their work toward voter education.