Absentee Voting in South Carolina


Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

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.
    • “State of Emergency” does not apply to any other election.
  • 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
    • 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.

Witness Requirement

  • Currently, a court has ruled voters do not need a witness signature on the absentee-by-mail return envelope for their ballot to count. However, it is possible this court ruling could change. The public will be notified of any changes to the witness requirement through the media and at scvotes.gov.

In Person

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. 

By Mail

Step 1: Get your application(available now).

Get the application online. You must be able to print your application.

   OR

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 below).

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 below).

Step 3: Receive your absentee ballot in the mail.

Step 4: Vote and return the ballot to your county voter registration officeor extension office.

  • Be sure to sign the voter's oath and have your signature witnessed. 
  • Return your ballot either by mail, personal delivery or authorized returnee (see Authorized Returnee below)
  • 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 at scVOTES.gov.

Authorized Representative

  • An Authorized Representative (Representative) is aregistered voterwho acts on behalf of a voter who is unable to go to the polls because of either:
    • Anillness or disabilityresulting in the voter’s confinement in a hospital, sanatorium, nursing home, or place of residence; or
    • Ahandicaprendering the voter unable to vote at his polling place due to existing architectural barriers that deny him physical access to the polling places, voting booth, or voting apparatus or machinery.
  • Candidates and paid campaign workers may not serve as a Representative except for immediate family members.
  • A Representative must complete the Authorized Representative form.
  • A Representative may:
    • Request a voter’s application.
    • Return the application through 5:00 p.m., Friday, October 30.
  • The ballot will be mailed to the voter.

Authorized Returnee

  • An Authorized Returnee (Returnee) is a person who can be authorized by any voter to return the voter’s absentee by mail ballot.
  • Candidates and paid campaign workers may not serve as a Returnee except for immediate family members.
  • The voter and Returnee must complete the Authorization to Return Absentee Ballot form. The Returnee must present the form when returning the ballot.

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