Tips For Voting In Horry County & South Carolina

Tips For Voting In Horry County & South Carolina

By Mike Hodges

New Voters in Horry County

The population growth in Horry County in 2017 and 2018 combined has exceeded 23,000 people. Based on an average family of four, in these two years alone Horry County has added over 11,500 adults of voting age. It is also notable that this increase in population does not consider students attending college and living in the area who can vote in South Carolina.

For these new voters in Horry County and South Carolina, and those just looking for a voting refresher, this article is for you. As many of you know, voting in different locations, different precincts, and different states all have their own set of challenges. Our goal is to make voting in Horry County and South Carolina as easy as possible.

How, When and Where

If there is one place to start, it’s the South Carolina Election Commission (SCEC) website, where most of your questions will be answered. Another great resource is the Horry County Voter Registration and Elections (HCVRE) office at (843) 915-5440. You can also contact the Horry County Democratic Party (HCDP) for help. Ballotpedia.org, rockthevote.org, and Sciway.net are also excellent resources on voting.

How to Register

There are a few different ways to register. With few exceptions, each will require a local physical address and the last 4 digits of your social security number, but you must register at least 30 days prior to the election. Scvotes.org lists the following ways to register on their website.

Register online at scvotes.org: Requires S.C. Driver’s License or DMV ID ; If you have moved, you must first update your residence address with DMV

Register by mail, email, fax at scvotes.org: Download a voter registration form, complete it, and return it to Horry  County Registration and Elections office by mail, fax, or email.

Register in person: Visit the Horry County Registration and Elections office at 1515 4th Avenue, Conway, SC 29526.

There have been cases of Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) voter registrations “getting lost” somewhere in the process. It is recommended that, after a few weeks to allow the processing of your registration, verify your registration and polling place by going to “Check Your Voter Registration” on scvotes.org or contact the Horry County Registration and Elections office at (843) 915-5440. Make sure you have received your blue voter registration card or a photo voter registration card. This “State of S.C. Voters Registration Notification” card includes your county of residence, precinct, and voting location-all the information you will need to find your voting place and vote. It also lists all of the offices, local, state and national for which you can vote. Don’t forget to sign your card.

If you have difficulty gathering the required information needed to register, call HDCP at (843) 488-4237 for help.

How to Register Students

As the Conway, SC area in Horry County becomes an ever increasing “college town”, it is important to keep these voters in mind. Scvotes.org states “Students may register to vote where they reside while attending college. This could be at an address in the college community (e.g., a dormitory) or at an address you intend to return to while not in the college community (e.g., family home) … Many college students who live on campus receive their mail at a campus post office box. These students must register at the physical address of their dormitory. The student’s P.O. Box can be provided for mailing and contact purposes.”

For additional information on registering students please visit scvotes.org pertaining to student registration drives, and as always, you can contact HCVRE offices or HCDP offices.

Dates & Timelines for Upcoming Elections

South Carolina Democratic Presidential Primary Election

  • Saturday, Feb 29, 2020
  • In-Person Absentee Voting: Jan 30, 2020 – Feb 28, 2020 (Whenever possible, take advantage of this to make sure your ballot does not get lost in the mail.)

Voter Registration Deadline for Presidential Primary

  • Postmarked by Thu Jan 30, 2020
  • In-Person Request by Thu Jan 30, 2020 5:00PM EST
  • Email or Fax by Thu Jan 30, 2020 11:59PM EST

Deadline to Request an Absentee Ballot

  • Tue Feb 25, 2020 5:00PM EST

Deadline to Return Completed Absentee Ballot

  • Received by Sat Feb 29, 2020 7:00PM EST

South Carolina State Primary Election

  • Jun 9, 2020
  • In-Person Absentee Voting: May 11, 2020 – Jun 8, 2020

Voter Registration Deadline

  • Postmarked by Mon May 11, 2020
  • In-Person Request by Fri May 8, 2020 5:00PM EDT
  • Email or Fax by Sun May 10, 2020 11:59PM EDT

Deadline to Request an Absentee Ballot

  • Fri Jun 5, 2020 5:00PM EDT

Deadline to Return Completed Absentee Ballot

  • Received by Tue Jun 9, 2020 7:00PM EDT

South Carolina General Election

  • Nov 3, 2020
  • In-Person Absentee Voting: Oct 5, 2020 – Nov 2, 2020

Voter Registration Deadline

  • Postmarked by Mon Oct 5, 2020
  • In Person Request by Fri Oct 2, 2020 5:00PM EDT
  • Email or Fax by Sun Oct 4, 2020 11:59PM EDT

Deadline to Request an Absentee Ballot

  • Fri Oct 30, 2020 5:00PM EDT

Deadline to Return Completed Absentee Ballot

  • Received by Tue Nov 3, 2020 7:00PM EST

Candidates/Special Elections Information

There are several good information sources for Horry County, South Carolina, and national elections. First, check your local newspapers and their online affiliates during the run-up to the election. Sciway.net also has information on a list of candidates and special elections for our area. Ballotpedia.org and rockthevote.org are also great resources to track candidates and their positions on local, state, and national concerns.

Absentee Voting

Just a few suggestions for absentee voting. You can qualify for in person absentee voting if you sign an affidavit stating that you meet one of the 16 qualifying situations. You can see the full list of 16 exceptions at, you guessed it, scvotes.org. Voters with disabilities and seniors can always vote in person absentee. If you must vote by mail, please check the deadline dates listed above and allow ample time for delivery. All Horry County mail goes to Columbia first, then back to Horry County for distribution, which can cause a greater lag time than would normally be expected.

Failsafe/Provisional Voting

Failsafe voting is the term used by South Carolina to define their Provisional ballot rules. These rules are specific, and not necessarily easy to follow. Ballotpedia.org gives a much fuller explanation of the provisional ballot process than the South Carolina Election Commission’s own website description.

Please read these carefully, and if you have any further questions contact the Horry County Voter Registration and Elections office or the HCDP office at the contact information given above. If you vote this way, you will be advised to attend the commission hearing to defend your ballot.

Listed below is a condensed version of Ballotpedia.org descriptions:

  • If the voter moves from one address to another within the same precinct, the voter has the right to cast a provisional ballot. (The voter “may vote a full ballot at the precinct after completing a change of address form.”)
  • If the voter moves from one precinct to another within the same county, the voter has the right to cast a provisional ballot. (The voter “can go to previous polling place and vote a limited, failsafe ballot containing only federal, statewide, and countywide offices. The voter’s updated address is recorded on failsafe ballot envelope.” The voter can also go to the “registration office, complete a change of address form, and vote a full ballot.”)
  • If the voter moves from one South Carolina county to another within 30 days of an election, the voter has the right to cast a provisional ballot. (The voter can “go to polling place in previous county of residence and vote a limited, failsafe ballot containing only federal, statewide, and countywide offices. The voter’s updated address is recorded on failsafe ballot envelope.” The voter can also go to the “registration office in current county of residence, complete a change of address form, and vote a full ballot.”)
  • If the voter moves from one state to another after the deadline to register to vote in a presidential election in the new state of residence. (The voter “may vote an absentee ballot containing only (Presidential election). The voter should contact the appropriate absentee voting office in his previous state and county of residence.”)

The most important guideline to remember when submitting a provisional ballot, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, is that” a provisional ballot is rejected when the voter votes in the wrong precinct”. Once you properly cast your provisional ballot you can use the South Carolina Election Commission’s Provisional Ballot Search tool to check the status of your ballot.

Day of Voting

You can be much better prepared for this day by printing out a personal sample ballot at home before you leave. You can print your ballot at scvotes.org. Take the time to fill out your sample ballot. This will help ease the frustration of “candidate searching” when you are in the booth. Be prepared for long lines. You may want to bring water and snacks. Take advantage of in person absentee voting to avoid the lines if your health would make a long wait difficult.

This year’s voting will be incrementally safer as South Carolina now has a paper-based ballot system. This system will allow you to electronically mark a ballot, then print it out before submitting it for tabulation. By law, you have up to five minutes to complete your ballot, a limit that is rarely upheld, so you have plenty of time in the voting booth. Remember to verify all your selections on the ballot before submitting it for tabulation. If it is not correct for any reason, ask for a new ballot and start over.

When voting in person, you will be asked to show one of the following Photo IDs at your polling place:

  • SC Driver’s License
  • SC Department of Motor Vehicles ID Card
  • SC Voter Registration Card with Photo
  • Federal Military ID
  • US Passport
  • Veteran’s Healthcare Photo ID
  • Concealed Weapons Permit

Don’t be surprised if one of the candidates, or one of their representatives, is present at the polling place for longer than required to vote. It is allowed by South Carolina voting laws. They cannot solicit for votes directly, but they can greet voters and provide snacks to poll workers. If they make you uncomfortable, you can notify the clerk. The clerk should then ask the candidate or his representative to leave.

Always remember that this is your polling place, and you have a right and a responsibility to be there.

Enjoy Your Voting Experience

Hopefully, these tips, tools and resources will help you wind your way through the, sometimes complex, voting system. Our goal is to make the voting process as transparent and straight forward as possible. As always, if you have more questions feel free to reach out to any of the organizations listed below.

Now Go Vote and congratulate yourself for doing your civic duty to enhance and protect our democracy!

Resources

Special thanks to the HCDP Voter committee. All the organizations we have used as resources for this article have some very good ideas for improving the voting process for Local, State and National elections. We recommend you look at their sites, not only for current elections, but to see what suggestions they make for future changes to ease the voting process:

Ballotpedia.org

Horry County Voter Registration and Elections

Horry County Democratic Party/HCDP Voter Committee

National Conference of State Legislatures

Rockthevote.org

Sciway.net

South Carolina Election Commission

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