By Barbara Sloan
On May 8, 1966, a rainy Mothers Day, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke to a mostly African-American audience in Kingstree, SC, a small town in Williamsburg County, about the importance of voting. The Williamsburg County Voters League sponsored the gathering of about 5,000 people.
“Let us march on ballot boxes,” said Dr. King famously, as he urged his audience to register to vote. A short video of this historic speech can be viewed below and more at March on Ballot Boxes website.
SC Congressman James Clyburn, then a young man not yet in office, and his wife attended Dr. King’s speech. He has said the speech inspired him and his wife to engage in a lifetime of service.
Horry County Democratic Party
The Horry County Democratic Party (HCDP) honors Dr. King’s historic speech each year with its March in March voting rights campaign, striving to educate voters on their right to vote.
“Our goals are to make voting easy and to encourage everyone to take advantage of their right to vote,” said Don Kohn, HCDP chair.
All South Carolina adults who are citizens, other than convicted felons who have not completed their sentences and required restitution, may register to vote. Each county has at least one place to register to vote. In Horry County, the Horry County Board of Voter Registration & Elections is located at 1515 4th Avenue in Conway. In addition, voters may register at the DMV when they get drivers’ licenses or online at scvotes.org, where more information is available.
Seventeen-year olds can register to vote if they will be 18 before the next election. To vote in an election, a person must register at least 30 days before that election.
After registration, the voter will receive a blue voter registration card. This card will show the voter’s name, address, gender and race, along with the precinct name, polling place and polling address. It also shows the voter’s Congressional district, State Senate district, State House district, County Council district, School district and Magistrate jury area.
Voters can verify their continuing registration at any time at scvotes.org by clicking on “check my voter registration.”
If a voter moves in-state, the voter must submit a change of address. This may be mailed in or done in-person at the local voter registration office or online. Note that this may result in a new polling place and change in districts.
While it is not necessary to present one’s voter registration card to vote, it is advisable to carry it to the polls in case a voter’s name has been left off the poll list.
Photo Identification Necessary
All voters must show photo identification such as a driver’s license in order to vote. HCDP encourages voters to get a free permanent plastic voter ID card at the Horry County Board of Voter Registration & Elections office. Several other forms of photo identification are acceptable.
South Carolina allows 16 reasons to vote absentee. They can be found here, along with applications for mail-in absentee ballots. The most common reasons for absentee voting are being out of state on election day, having to work on election day and being over age 65.
Mail-in ballots must contain the signature of a witness. Otherwise, they will not be counted.
Voters also may go to the Horry County Board of Voter Registration & Elections office in Conway during regular hours to vote in-person absentee. HCDP considers this the best way to vote absentee, since your ballot cannot be lost in the mail and there is no question of forgetting to have someone witness your mail-in ballot.
Felons who have completed their sentences and made restitution may register to vote. If it is their first time registering, they simply register as anyone else would. If they lost voting rights upon conviction, they must request reinstatement at the Voter Registration and Elections office. The county will check to be sure that all sentences and restitution have been completed.
People who for any reason may not look like their photo ID are entitled to vote without restriction. This includes people whose appearance may have changed due to illness or accident and those who have changed their gender identification. A person who is on the voter rolls and has photo identification must be allowed to vote without impediment.
Each polling place in Horry County offers curbside voting for those who are disabled. Look for a sign designating the curbside voting area.
Any voter who believes he or she is registered to vote, but who is not on the voter rolls or for whom some other impediment exists, may request a provisional ballot. These voters must resolve the problem with the Voter Registration and Election office before or at the certification hearing that is held a few days after election day. If they do not, their provisional ballot will not be counted.
Voters who need a ride can call HCDP on election day. Generally, several people are available to provide assistance.
Voter Readiness Checklist
Voters can read or download a voter readiness checklist to make sure they don’t forget any important details before they go to cast their ballots. Make sure you are voting on the right day and at the right place. The linked checklist currently does not have the correct date as it is from a past election day, but the remaining information is valid.
Sample ballots for your precinct can be found online at scvotes.org.
New Voting System
According to this news release, SC will have a new voting system by January 1, 2020. It will have a paper trail for every vote cast and will be accessible to those with disabilities.
For more information, visit the HCDP website at https://horrydemocrats.xyz/issues/#voter-rights and https://horrydemocrats.org/?s=voting or call our office at (843)488-4237.