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HCDP Marches in March to Ensure Voters’ Rights

On May 8,1966, a rainy Mothers Day, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke to a mostly African-American audience in the small town of Kingstree, SC, 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.

On May 8, 1966 the residents of Kingstree, South Carolina came to hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speak on voting rights. This clip is outtake footage of local television news film, and begins with silent images of the crowd. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. arrives and greets attendees.
The audio begins at approximately 1:30, in the midst of Dr. King’s speech. He stresses the importance of voting, particularly in the local primary, calling for a “march on ballot boxes.” Attendees include James Clyburn and Andrew Young.

SC Congressman James Clyburn, then a young man not yet in office, and his wife attended Dr. King’s speech. Clyburn has said that the speech inspired him and his wife to engage in a lifetime of service.

Horry County Democratic Party

The Horry County Democratic Party (HCDP) Voter Protection Committee 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.

“Voting is the right of every adult American. Your vote is your voice,” said Alester Linton-Pryor, HCDP Chair. “I urge everyone who is eligible to register to vote, to support candidates and to run for office. Then take ten more to register and vote in every election.”

“Voting is an expression of freedom and dignity and the means to better education, better jobs and a strong nation,” Linton-Pryor continued.

Voter Registration

All adults in SC other than convicted felons who have not completed their sentences, probation and parole may register to vote. Each county has multiple places 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.gov, 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.

Verify Registration

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. If you lose your card, request a new one.

Voters can verify their continuing registration at any time at scvotes.gov by clicking on “check my voter registration.”  If a voter does not receive the blue registration card in the mail within one month of registration, the voter should follow up by calling Voter Registration and Elections at (843)915-5440.

If a voter moves in-state, the voter must submit a change of address. This may be mailed in or presented in-person at the local voter registration office or online. Note that this may result in a new polling place and change in districts. Voters are not allowed to vote at polling places other than the one they are registered for, with the exception of the Voter Registration and Elections office.

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 fails to appear on 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.The most common form of identification is a driver’s license. If you do not drive, you may get an ID from the DMV. You may also get a free photo ID from the Horry County Voter Registration and Election Commission office.

It’s best to have a photo ID, but a voter can vote with an impediment without a photo ID on a paper ballot, giving the reason why there is no photo ID. Election Commissioners will decide whether to accept the ballot.

Absentee Voting

South Carolina has made recent changes to absentee voting. 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 envelopes must have a witness signature along with the name and street address printed. Otherwise, they will be disallowed and not counted.

HCDP suggests early voting or manually delivering your absentee ballot to the Voter Registration and Election office, since your ballot cannot be lost in the mail.

Early Voting

South Carolina allows early voting. In Horry County, early voting generally starts two weeks before election day. Watch for announcements of polling places on local news media. The Voter Registration and Election Commission office is generally one of three polling places during early voting, which takes place during normal business hours. Check here for more information.

Special Circumstances

Following a felony conviction, people who have completed their sentence, probation and parole 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 may request documentation. Call HCDP if you have any difficulties.

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.

Each polling place in Horry County offers curbside voting for those who need it. 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 challenge exists, may request a provisional ballot. When voting provisionally, resolution of the problem must be completed 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 be disallowed by the Commissioners.

Voter Readiness Checklist

Voters can read or download a voter readiness checklist to review the process before they go to cast their ballots. Make sure you are voting on the right day and at the right place. Your sample ballot can be found online at scvotes.gov.

New Voting System

The new voting equipment prints a ballot card after the voter has made their choices. It is important for the voter to verify their choices by reviewing this ballot before having it scanned. This paper trail allows for a recount of the votes, should it be needed. For more voting information on our website, click here or you can call our office with any questions or concerns at: (843) 488-4237.

Barbara Sloan is a member of the Horry County Democratic Party Voter Protection Committee, which strives to make sure that every eligible person can cast a vote.

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