Voting in South Carolina
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To vote in South Carolina, you must meet the following requirements:
- 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.
When and where
The deadline for registration is 31 days prior to the election. You may register to vote in the following ways:
- Register in person at their county board of voter registration, or
- Download a form, complete it, and mail it to their county board of voter registration, or
- Download a form, complete it, and fax it to their county board of voter registration, or
- Download a form, complete it, scan it, and email it as a file attachment to their county voter registration office.
As of December 2014, South Carolina is one of the 15 states that have implemented online voter registration. Residents can register online at this website.
Voting on election day
Voters are required to show any one of three forms of identification in order to vote: voter registration card, driver’s license or picture identification card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Note: Pre-clearance for South Carolina's new photo ID law was denied on December 23, 2011. The state applied for reconsideration. However, on June 29, 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice again denied the new photo law. A federal court has scheduled oral arguments for September 24, 43 days before the election.
- See also: State Poll Opening and Closing Times
- See also: Absentee voting
Voters are eligible to vote absentee in an election if they cannot make it to the polls on election day for one of the following reasons:
- Students attending school outside their county of residence and their spouses and dependents residing with them
- Members of the Armed Forces or Merchant Marine serving outside their county of residence and their spouses and dependents residing with them
- Persons serving with the American Red Cross or with the United Service Organizations (USO) who are attached to and serving with the Armed Forces outside their county of residence 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
- Government employees serving outside their county of residence on Election Day and their spouses and dependents residing with them
- Persons with a death or funeral in the family within three days before the election
- Persons who plan to be on vacation outside their county of residence on Election Day
- Certified poll watchers, poll managers, and county election officials working on Election Day
- Overseas Citizens
- Persons attending sick or physically disabled persons
- Persons admitted to the hospital as emergency patients on Election Day or within a four-day period before the election
- Persons serving as a juror in state or federal court on Election Day
- Persons sixty-five years of age or older
- Persons confined to a jail or pre-trial facility pending disposition of arrest or trial
To vote absentee, a request must be received no later than 5 p.m. on the fourth day prior to the election. The ballot must then be returned by 7 p.m. on election day.
Military and overseas voting
For full details, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program here.
- See also: Early voting
South Carolina is one of eight states that allow early voting but require an excuse to vote early. Early voting begins as soon as ballots become available and ends at 5 p.m. the day prior to election day.
To vote early you need to provide an excuse for why you will be unable to vote at the polls during normal voting hours. Falling into any of the following categories is a valid reason:
- a student away at college (or a spouse or dependent residing with the student)
- a member of the Armed Forces, Merchant Marines, Red Cross, USO, government employees, or a spouse or dependent residing with such a person
- a person with a job that prevents you from voting in person on election day
- physically disabled
- away on vacation on election day
- 65 or older
- confined to a jail or pre-trial facility pending disposition of arrest or trial
- attending sick or physically disabled persons
- on jury duty in state or federal court on election day
- a certified poll watchers or poll managers
- South Carolina State Election Commission, "South Carolina Voter Registration Information," accessed June 10, 2014
- U.S. Department of Justice, "South Carolina Voter ID law," June 29, 2012
- Montgomery Advertiser, "States' actions on voter ID laws stoke debate," July 14, 2012
- South Carolina State Election Commission, "Voters Reminded To Bring Identification To The Polls," accessed June 10, 2014
- SCVotes, "South Carolina Voting Information Page," accessed January 3, 2014
- National Conference of State Legislatures Website, "State Primary Election Types," accessed January 6, 2014
- Fair Vote, "Congressional and Presidential Primaries: Open, Closed, Semi-Closed, and 'Top Two,'" accessed January 6, 2014
- Ballotpedia research conducted December 26, 2013, through January 3, 2014, researching and analyzing various state websites and codes.
- South Carolina State Election Commission, "Absentee Voting," accessed December 16, 2013
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- Long Distance Voter "Early Voting Rules," accessed December 16, 2013