Early voting signed into law in time for June primaries
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - Gov. Henry McMaster signed into law Friday legislation passed by the General Assembly establishing early voting in South Carolina.
The governor’s signature came in time to make early voting available for the state’s primaries being held on June 14.
The South Carolina Election Commission says that means in-person absentee voting will not be replaced with a two-week early voting period. In-person absentee voting will no longer be authorized by law, South Carolina State Election Commission Deputy Executive Director Chris Whitmire said.
Any voter can visit an early-voting location in their county and vote like they would at their regular polling place on Election Day, Whitmire said.
For the June primaries, early voting will be open from from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. from May 31 through June 10, but early voting will not be available on the weekend of June 4-5.
Voters can visit their county voter registration and election offices or any additional locations that will be determined and announced no later than May 24. Those locations will be posted to scVOTES.gov.
For any necessary runoff elections for the June Primary, early voting will be available June 22 through June 24 at the same hours and locations.
Voters will still need to bring their their photo ID or voter registration card if they do not have a photo ID.
Absentee voting will be by mail only
With the new early voting option, those who need to vote absentee will do so by mailing in their ballot prior to the election day deadline.
Absentee voting will now be available by mail only, Whitmire says.
Voters qualified for absentee-by-mail voting include:
- Voters with disabilities.
- Voters sixty-five years of age or older.
- Members of the Armed Forces and Merchant Marines of the United States, their spouses, and dependents residing with them.
- Voters admitted to hospitals as emergency patients on the day of an election or within a four-day period before the election.
- Voters who, for one of the following reasons, are unable to vote in person on any day of the early-voting period or on Election Day.
- Employment obligations.
- Attending sick or physically disabled persons.
- Confined to a jail or pretrial facility pending disposition of arrest or trial.
- Absent from their county for any reason.
To vote absentee, voters must request an absentee application by phone, mail, or in person at their county voter registration office, then complete, sign and return the application to their county voter registration office by mail or in person.
County offices will soon begin issuing new applications based on the new requirements, but the old application will continue to be accepted through May 31, Whitmire said. After May 31, only new applications meeting current requirements will be accepted.
The deadline to return a new application is June 3.
Voters will then receive your absentee ballot in the mail. They must return their ballot to their county voter registration office by mail or in person no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day. For the June primary, they would have to return their ballot by mail or in person no later than 7 p.m. on June 14.
Voters must sign the voter’s oath and have the return envelope witnessed. There are no changes to the witness requirement in effect for the June Primaries. Witness requirement changes in the law go into effect in July.
Photo ID will be required for voters who return their ballot in person.
Ballots returned by mail should be mailed no later than one week prior to election day to help ensure timely delivery.
For those who don’t take advantage of the early voting or absentee-by-mail options, polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 14.
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