Voting in South Carolina

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South Carolina permits online voter registration and early voting. It does not permit no-excuse absentee voting. Those who qualify for an absentee ballot also qualify to vote early. Photo identification is required at the polls on Election Day.

For full information about voting in South Carolina, contact the state election agency.


To vote in South Carolina, you must:[1]

  • 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.[2]

—South Carolina State Election Commission

When and where

The deadline for registration is 31 days prior to the election. You may register to vote in the following ways:[1]

  • 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.[2]

—South Carolina State Election Commission

Online registration

See also: Online voter registration in the 50 states

As of April 2015, South Carolina is one of 20 states that have implemented full online voter registration. Residents can register online at this website.

Voting on Election Day

Voter identification

See also: Voter identification laws by state

All voters are required to present photo identification at the polls. This includes a state driver's license, an identification card, a voter registration card that includes a photo, a federal military ID or a U.S. passport. A voter can receive a free photo ID from his or her county voter registration office by providing his or her name, date of birth and the last four digits of his or her Social Security number.[3]

South Carolina’s photo identification law was first submitted for pre-clearance to the United States Department of Justice in 2011 and was denied. Though the state applied for reconsideration, it was again denied pre-clearance on June 29, 2012.[4][5] South Carolina then took the law to court, and in October 2012, a panel of federal judges blocked the law for the 2012 general election. The judges ruled that, given the short time remaining before the election, the law put a burden on minority voters that violated the Voting Rights Act. However, the judges also said there was nothing inherently discriminatory about the law and that it could be utilized in elections after 2012.[6] South Carolina’s photo ID law took effect January 1, 2013.[7]

Poll times

See also: State Poll Opening and Closing Times

In South Carolina, all polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern Time.[8]

Primary voting

South Carolina is one of 14 states that uses an open primary system, in which registered voters do not have to be members of a party to vote in that party's primary.[9][10][11]

Absentee voting

See also: Absentee voting


In order to qualify for an absentee ballot, voters in South Carolina must provide a valid reason they cannot make it to the polls on Election Day. The following voters are qualified for an absentee ballot:[12]

  • 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[2]

—South Carolina State Election Commission


To vote absentee, a request must be received "no later than 5:00 p.m. on the fourth day prior to the election." The ballot must then be returned by 7 p.m. on Election Day.[12]

Military and overseas voting

For full details regarding military and overseas voting, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program.

Early voting

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. Those who qualify for an absentee ballot also qualify to vote early.[13][14]

Election policy ballot measures

Voting on
elections and campaigns
Ballot measures
By state
By year
Not on ballot
See also: Elections and campaigns on the ballot and List of South Carolina ballot measures

Ballotpedia has tracked the following ballot measures relating to election and campaign policy in South Carolina.

  1. South Carolina Appointment of Adjutant General, Amendment 2 (2014)
  2. South Carolina Democratic Primary Advisory Questions (June 2014)
  3. South Carolina Gubernatorial Elections, Amendment 1 (2012)
  4. South Carolina Referendum 2B, Convicted Felons May Not Serve in Elective Office (1996)
  5. South Carolina Referendum 2C, Voting Eligibility of 18-Year-Olds (1996)
  6. South Carolina Referendum 3, Voting Precinct for Those Who Have Moved (1996)
  7. South Carolina Republican Primary Advisory Questions (June 2014)

Recent news

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See also

Elections in South Carolina

External links