No, taking photos or videos in SC polling places is not allowed

A sign outside a Dorchester County polling place warns voters that taking photos or videos...
A sign outside a Dorchester County polling place warns voters that taking photos or videos inside is not allowed by the South Carolina Election Commission.(Live 5)
Published: Nov. 8, 2022 at 5:12 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 8, 2022 at 5:40 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina election officials say voters cannot take photos or videos with cell phones or cameras inside state polling places.

It’s a new rule, officially adopted by the State Election Commission Board in October, that caught at least one voter by surprise Tuesday. A voter said the polling staffers at Moultrie Middle School in Mount Pleasant told him cell phones were not allowed in the building.

Isaac Cramer, the executive director of the Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration, confirmed the policy, citing a rule from the South Carolina Election Commission’s Poll Managers Handbook:

No voter, poll watcher, or observer should take pictures of voting equipment, including but not limited to, the seals on the machines. Cameras, cell phones, and other digital photography and electronic recording devices are not allowed in the voting area.

State Election Commission Executive Director Chris Whitmire said improper use of a cell phone would be a violation of SEC policy.

“If a person refused to comply with the rule, it could result in their removal from the polling place,” he said. “Simply having your phone is not a violation.”

This sign, outside Stono Park Elementary School, warned voters that the use of cell phones in...
This sign, outside Stono Park Elementary School, warned voters that the use of cell phones in the voting booth is prohibited by law. State Election Commission officials say the rule specifically prohibits taking photos or recording videos in the booths, but say simply having a cell phone with you is not a violation.(Live 5)

Whitmire said allowing your ballot to be seen by someone else is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to one year in prison. That law, he says, applies to everyone, including candidates.

An opinion published by South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson in May 2012 states any voter who allows his or her ballot to be seen, “through any medium, with the apparent intention of letting it be known how he/she is about to or has voted, may be found to have violated the constitutional and statutory mandate for ballot secrecy in this state.”

But Wilson also noted his office “has consistently advised that the judgment call as to whether to prosecute a particular individual is warranted or is on sound legal ground in a particular case is a matter within the discretion of the local prosecutor.”

The 2022 edition of the state poll managers manual also provides instructions on a variety of issues. For example, it states a polling manager should never handle a voter’s ballot unless the voter requires special assistance. The manager should also have the voter wait at the ballot scanner until the screen reads, “Thank you for voting.”

The manual states it is illegal for husbands and wives who are capable of voting separately to enter the voting booth together to vote unless one spouse is disabled and requests the other’s assistance to vote.

Children of a voter are allowed to accompany the voter into the voting booth, but voters must confirm they are the parent of any accompanying children.