South Carolina Elections

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Your State

Upcoming Elections

2016 Presidential Preference Caucus: Saturday, February 20 for Republicans; Saturday, February 27 for Democracts

  • Voter Registration Deadlines: January 20 for Republicans; January 27 for Democrats

2016 Congressional/State Primary: Tuesday, June 14

  • Voter Registration Deadline: Saturday, May 14

2016 General Election: Tuesday, November 8

  • Voter Registration Deadline: Saturday, October 8

For more information, visit the South Carolina State Election Commission website.

Please note that the information in the sections below has not been updated, and refers to the 2015 general election.


More state specific election info below.

Voting Rights

News

Election Commission Advisory Board Disagrees With Director Over Proof-of-Citizenship Rule
05/06/16 |
Publication Date: 
Thursday, May 5, 2016 - 17:45
Excerpt: 

It looks like more bad news for the new executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Brian Newby is already being sued by the League of Women Voters for his decision earlier this year to allow Kansas and two other states to require residents to show proof of citizenship when they register to vote using a federal form. The move effectively reversed a long-standing EAC policy.

Now, the EAC's advisory board — composed of election officials from around the country — has approved a resolution saying that such changes should be made by the commissioners themselves. The resolution, passed by a 13-7 vote during a two-day board meeting in Chicago, is only advisory, but clearly shows dissatisfaction with Newby's actions. ...

Republicans, who generally back proof-of-citizenship laws, are watching the legal wrangling closely. If [Kansas Secretary of State Kris] Kobach wins, there will likely be more legislation requiring voters to show such proof when they go to register.

Lawmakers In Missouri Just Passed A Voter ID Bill That Could Disenfranchise 220,000 People
05/05/16 |
Publication Date: 
Thursday, May 5, 2016 - 15:30
Excerpt: 

The deal involves amendments to the bill that progressive lawmakers say will “ensure no voter is denied his or her Constitutional right to vote.” For instance, the state would be required to provide free photo IDs and any underlying documents necessary to obtain them, such as birth certificates and Social Security cards. Additionally, voters who are unable to get the required ID for whatever reason would be able to sign a legally-binding affidavit promising they are who they say they are, and could then vote with regular ballots.  ...

“Many voters simply give up in anger and frustration” when navigating a complex bureaucracy, [UC irvine professor Rick Hasen] explained. “Many voters don’t even know what an ‘impediment’ is, let alone how to take advantage of the exemption.” He characterized safety net provisions like the affidavit as “nothing more than weak attempts to deal with the original harshness of voter-ID laws.”

The Missouri Secretary of State’s office estimated in 2014 that about 220,000 registered voters lack the proper ID and could be disenfranchised by a voter ID law. Many more who are not registered could be impacted as well. The implementation of the law would cost as much as $17 million over three years, and the compromise bill stipulates that if the legislature doesn’t appropriate enough funds to help people get IDs, the law wouldn’t be enforced. 

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Voting as a Student

As a student, you have a constitutional right to register and vote in the place you truly consider to be “home” — whether that’s your parents’ house, your apartment, or your dorm room. But before you make the important decision about where to vote, make sure you know the rules (and sometimes consequences) of registering to vote in that state.

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South Carolina Election Info

Upcoming Elections in Your State

2016 Presidential Preference Caucus: Saturday, February 20 for Republicans; Saturday, February 27 for Democracts

  • Voter Registration Deadlines: January 20 for Republicans; January 27 for Democrats

2016 Congressional/State Primary: Tuesday, June 14

  • Voter Registration Deadline: Saturday, May 14

2016 General Election: Tuesday, November 8

  • Voter Registration Deadline: Saturday, October 8

For more information, visit the South Carolina State Election Commission website.

Please note that the information in the sections below has not been updated, and refers to the 2015 general election.

Election Day: 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

South Carolina DOES NOT have early voting.

How to Find Your Polling Place

Visit the South Carolina State Election Commission Precinct Finder webpage.

Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683).

REGISTER TO VOTE HERE

Already registered? Verify your voter registration status.


Registration Deadlines

Voters must register at least 30 days before an election.

How to Check if You Are Registered

Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE or check the South Carolina Election Commission’s voter registration lookup page here.

How to Register

Online

Individuals may register to vote online in South Carolina.  Online voter registration requires that you have a South Carolina Driver’s License or DMV ID.  If you have moved, you must first update your address with DMV, which you can do through the South Carolina DMV website.  Online applications must be submitted on or before the deadline to be valid for any specific election.

In-Person or by Mail

You may also register to vote in person at your county voter registration board.  You can locate your county board here

Voter registration forms may also be downloaded from the South Carolina State Elections Commission website.  Applicants can mail, fax or email completed voter registration forms to their county voter registration boards.  Contact information for county boards is located here.  Mail-in applications must be postmarked by the deadline (30 days prior any specific election) to be eligible.  Fax and email applications must be received by the voter registration office by the deadline to be eligible.

Registration Eligibility

In order to vote, South Carolina law requires one must first register to vote at least 30 days prior to the election.  To be eligible to register in South Carolina you MUST:

  • be a United States citizen -be at least eighteen years old on or before the next election;
  • be a resident of South Carolina, this county and precinct;
  • not be under a court order declaring you mentally incompetent;
  • not be confined in any public prison resulting from a conviction of a crime; and
  • have never been convicted of a felony or offense against the election laws OR if previously convicted, have served the entire sentence, including probation or parole, or have received a pardon for the conviction.

There is no length of residency requirement in South Carolina in order to register to vote.  You can register at any time.

Identification Required for Registration

Applicant must provide ID and a valid social security number.

The South Carolina Voter Registration Application states that one must attach an ID to the application if one is registering for the first time in the county. Acceptable forms of ID include:

  • a current valid photo ID or a copy of a current utility bill;
  • bank statement;
  • paycheck;and
  • other government document that shows the applicant's name and address in the county where such person is registering to vote.

If an applicant does not provide this identification information at the time of application, he/she will be required to provide this information when voting.

Applicants who are age 65 and over, individuals with disabilities, members of the U.S. Uniformed Services or Merchant Marines and their families, and U.S. Citizens residing outside the U.S. are exempt from this ID requirement.

If You Want to Vote Early

South Carolina does not have early voting.  However, qualified voters may cast in-person absentee ballots.  For more information on qualifications for casting absentee ballots or in-person absentee voting, see below.

If You Want to Vote Absentee

The following persons are qualified to vote by absentee ballot:

  • Students attending school outside their county of residence as well as their spouses and dependents residing with them;
  • Persons who will be on vacation outside their county of residence on Election Day;
  • Members of the Armed Services or Merchant Marine, as well as their spouses and dependents residing with them;
  • Persons serving with the American Red Cross or United Service Organizations (USO) who are attached to and serving with the Armed Forces outside their county of residence, as well as their spouses and dependents residing with them;
  • Persons who, for reasons of employment, will not be able to vote on election day;
  • Physically disabled persons;
  • Government employees serving outside their county of residence on Election Day, as well as their spouses and dependents residing with them;
  • Overseas Citizens;
  • Persons sixty-five years of age or older;
  • Persons serving as a juror in state or federal court on Election Day;
  • Persons admitted to the hospital as emergency patients on day of election or within a four-day period before the election;
  • Persons with a death or funeral in the family within three days before the election;
  • Persons confined to a jail or pre-trial facility pending disposition of arrest or trial;
  • Persons attending sick or physically disabled persons; and
  • Certified poll watchers, poll managers, and county election officials working on Election Day

Procedures for Voting by Absentee Ballot

Voters who meet the absentee ballot requirements may vote absentee by mail or in person.

In Person

Visit your county voter registration office, complete an application, and cast your ballot.  You may vote in person up until 5:00pm on the day before the election.

By Mail

You can request the application online or by calling, emailing, mailing, or faxing your county voter registration office.  If applying by mail, the county voter registration office must receive the absentee ballot application no later than four days prior to the election.

If you requested an absentee ballot but have not yet received your ballot, check the status of your absentee ballot online.  If you still have questions, contact the county board of elections.

Your ballot must be returned to your county voter registration office by 7:00p.m.on the day of the election.  Be sure to carefully follow the instructions on your absentee ballot.  You may return the ballot personally or by mail.  You may also have another person return the ballot for you, but you must first complete an authorization to return absentee ballot form, available from your county voter registration office.

You must sign the oath on the envelope used to return the absentee ballot.  If you cannot sign the oath on your absentee ballot envelope because of a physical disability or illiteracy, you must make your mark and have the mark witnessed by someone you designate.

Voting in Person after Requesting an Absentee Ballot

If you requested an absentee ballot, you can only vote at your polling place on Election Day if you provide the poll workers at your precinct a certificate from the County Board of Voter Registration that your absentee ballot has been returned to the board unmarked.  

Identification Requirements to Register to Vote

Applicant must provide ID and a valid social security number.

The South Carolina Voter Registration Application states that one must attach an ID to the application if one is registering for the first time in the county. Acceptable forms of ID include:

  • a current valid photo ID or a copy of a current utility bill;
  • bank statement;
  • paycheck; or
  • other government document that shows the applicant's name and address in the county where such person is registering to vote.

If an applicant does not provide this identification information at the time of application, he/she will be required to provide this information when voting.

Applicants who are age 65 and over, individuals with disabilities, members of the U.S. Uniformed Services or Merchant Marines and their families, and U.S. Citizens residing outside the U.S. are exempt from this ID requirement.

Identification Requirements to Cast a Ballot

As of January 1, 2013, you will be asked to show one of the following Photo IDs at your polling place:

  • S.C. Driver's License;
  • ID Card issued by S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles;
  • S.C. Voter Registration Card with Photo;
  • Federal Military ID; or
  • U.S. Passport.

If you do not have the required photo ID, you may be able to vote a provisional ballot.  If you have a reasonable impediment to obtaining Photo ID, you may vote a provisional ballot after showing your non-photo voter registration card.  A reasonable impediment is any valid reason, beyond your control, which created an obstacle to obtaining Photo ID.  Some examples include:

  • Religious objection to being photographed;
  • Disability or illness;
  • Work schedule;
  • Lack of transportation;
  • Lack of birth certificate;
  • Family responsibilities;
  • Election within short time frame of implementation of Photo ID law (January 1, 2013); or
  • Any other obstacle you find reasonable.

To vote under the reasonable impediment exception:

  1. Present your current, non-photo registration card at the polling place.
  2. Sign an affidavit stating why you could not obtain a Photo ID.
  3. Cast a provisional ballot that will be counted unless the county election commission has reason to believe your affidavit is false.

If you do NOT have Photo ID and do NOT have a reasonable impediment to obtaining one, or you simply forgot to bring it with you to the polls, you may still vote a provisional ballot.  However, for your vote to be counted, you must provide one of the Photo IDs to the county election commission prior to certification of the election (usually Thursday or Friday after the election).

Moving Within Your State

South Carolina’s “failsafe voting” procedures allow voters who have moved, but failed to update their addresses to update their addresses on election day and vote.

Moving Within the Same Precinct

Voter may vote a full ballot at the precinct after completing a change of address form.

Moving Within the Same County But to a Different Precinct

Voter has two options:

  • 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.
  • Go to voter registration office, complete a change of address form, and vote a full ballot.

Moving From One South Carolina County to Another Within 30 Days of an Election

Voter has two options:

  • 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.
  • Go to voter registration office in current county of residence, complete a change of address form, and vote a full ballot.

Visit the South Carolina State Election Commission’s webpage for Failsafe Voting.

Military and overseas citizens can use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA), also known as Standard Form 76, to register to vote and to request an absentee ballot.  Visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program's (FVAP) South Carolina-specific FPCA page.

Military and overseas citizens can send and receive voting materials by fax and email.  If you wish to use the fax or email options, you must indicate this on your FPCA.  Instructions for doing so are found on the FVAP's South Carolina-specific FPCA page.

Military and overseas citizens can use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) if they are concerned with receiving their printed ballot and returning it by the 7:00 p.m., Election Day deadline.  The FWAB is a blank ballot on which voters write-in their choices.  The FWAB may also be used  to register to vote and to apply for the absentee ballot, all in one step.  If the FWAB is being used to register to vote, it must be received by the voter registration deadline.  For specific instructions, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program's South Carolina page to download the form.

Instant Runoff Voting

Instant Runoff Voting allows military and overseas citizens to rank candidates in a primary to be used in the event of a runoff.

In South Carolina, a candidate must receive more than 50% of the vote in a primary to win a party's nomination.  If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, a primary runoff is held two weeks later between the top two candidates.  In many cases, two weeks is not enough time for military and overseas citizens to receive and return a traditional absentee ballot.  To solve this problem, all military and overseas citizens receive an IRV ballot with their primary ballot.

The IRV ballot allows the voter to rank the candidates in contests that have the potential for a runoff (i.e., contests with three or more candidates).  In the event of a primary runoff, the highest ranked candidate of the two remaining will receive the voter's vote.

Once a person who was convicted of a felony or offense against the election laws serves his entire sentence—including probation, parole and payment of restitution—he may register to vote.  To register, the applicant must submit a new voter registration application to his county voter registration office.  To participate in any particular election, the applicant must submit the application prior to the 30-day voter registration deadline for that election.  In applying, the registrant is swearing under penalty of perjury that he is qualified to register, including having completed his entire sentence.  County voter registration boards must be satisfied that the applicant meets the qualifications; and in some cases, could require a person who has lost his voting rights due to conviction to provide some proof that he has completed his sentence. 

For more information, visit the South Carolina State Election Commission website.

FAQ

Top Issues to Field **not yet updated since 2014**

For more information for voters with disabilities, visit the National Disability Rights Network’s voting resource center.

For more information for student voters, visit the South Carolina Student Voting Guide from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Information provided by Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights

2016 Election Information for your state