CoronaVoting Part II: Absentee Voting
By Steve Hamelman
This is the second of two articles explaining the basics of the registration process and voting options available to South Carolinians, with a focus on voters in Horry County.
The first purpose of these two articles is to distill information from the main resource for voters in South Carolina—the South Carolina Election Commissions website at scvotes.org—and share it with readers, saving them the trouble of looking it up themselves.
The second purpose is to encourage (1) non-registered voters to register, (2) registered voters to make sure they are in fact registered, and (3) all potential and current voters to locate their precinct’s polling station (125 precincts in Horry County alone). There have been changes to several polling locations throughout Horry County, so make sure you check the current location for your precinct before going out to vote on election day.
The Horry County Democratic Party (HCDP) urges you to do 1, 2, and/or 3 now.
Remember that to vote you must be registered at least 30 days before the next election.
The next election is on June 9. The deadline for in-person registration is May 8, postmarked by May 11 if registering by mail and on or before 11:59pm on May 10 via email or fax.
The HCDP wants you to vote safely – hopefully for a Democratic candidate in the federal, state, county, and municipal primaries on June 9 and also in the general election on November 3, 2020.
For any number of reasons, a person may choose to vote either In-Person Absentee or by Mail- In Absentee. If you meet any of the criteria, one of which is you are 65 years of age or older, you can vote by either absentee option. There are currently no changes to the criteria for absentee voting in South Carolina due to the coronavirus.
For those of you who wish to vote In-Person Absentee, the rules are simple enough.
If you choose to vote In-Person Absentee for the June 9 election, you may do so beginning on May 4, 2020 in the Conway office at the address listed below.
Horry County Board of Voter Registration and Elections
1515 4th Avenue
Conway, SC 29526
Call first for hours of operation: (843) 915-5440
For more information, click this link.
When you check in to vote at the registration office, you need to state your reason for voting In-Person Absentee before casting your ballot. The opportunity to vote this way is good until 5:00 p.m. June 8, the day before the election.
A photo I.D. is always required when voting in-person, whether it’s absentee or at your polling place. Here is the list of approved photos ID’s (reprinted from “CoronaVoting Part I”):
– Valid South Carolina driver’s license (either a standard license or a REAL I.D. acquired through the Department of Motor Vehicles
– SC Department of Motor Vehicles I.D. card
– SC Concealed Weapons Permit
– SC Voter Registration Card with Photo (paper or card)
– Federal Military I.D. (all Department of Defense Photo I.D.s and Veterans Affairs Benefits Card)
– U.S. Passport or U.S. Passport Card
This is the preferred choice for millions of Americans who do not want to risk exposure to the coronavirus. Unfortunately, South Carolina has not made any changes to its Mail-In Absentee voting requirements to accommodate fears of coronavirus exposure at the polls.
If you don’t meet any of the criteria for voting absentee, either In-Person or Mail-In, you must vote at your polling location on election day.
Voters who meet at least one of the eligibility requirements to vote absentee are free to vote from home. But this method involves an application process (by mail, email, fax, or hand delivery).
Sandra N. Martin, Registration and Elections Director for Horry County, writes:
You MUST fill out absentee applications and send them in. Once we receive the applications back, your ballot will be mailed up to 30 days prior to the election. You can also call the office at 915-5440 and request an application. You can also go online to scvotes.org and fill out an application and send it in.
Voters should keep in mind that Mail-In Absentee voting has the most steps and the most rules. Therefore, to be on the safe side, voters should consult scvotes.org or the Horry County election office right away.
A Mail-In Absentee ballot is the only one of the three voting options (In-Person at your polling station and In-Person Absentee are the other two) needing a witness signature. The voter chooses the witness who will sign on the return envelope’s designated line. There are no criteria for who the witness can be.
Note: if there is no witness signature on the envelope, your vote will not be counted!
If you qualify by meeting just one of many eligibility conditions, In-Person Absentee is an attractive option. You can vote on a day convenient for you within thirty days of the election; lines may be shorter; risk exposure to coronavirus may be relatively low; and handicapped accessibility will still be available as at your polling place.
Although absentee voting by mail is, in the words of HCDP Chair Don Kohn “cumbersome,” it offers unparalleled safety since voters don’t have to leave home. Technology simplifies the application process.
Whichever form of absentee voting you choose, remember that deadlines loom. Know what they are and be ahead of them so that you don’t forfeit your vote in the June 9 and November 3 elections.
The welfare of the United States of America depends on each and every Democratic vote for candidates who will save the nation from another four years of feckless (to put it mildly) Republican leadership.