COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – Every registered voter in South Carolina is now qualified to vote absentee in the June primary and runoff elections.
Governor Henry McMaster on Wednesday signed legislation that was passed this week by the General Assembly which authorizes any voter to vote absentee in any election in June 2020, according to Chris Whitmire with the South Carolina Election Commission.
“It’s for people who are concerned about long lines and crowds and the spread of the virus to their family. It gives them the security and safety and comfort ability of voting early,” said Representative Russell Fry.
Sandy Martin, director of the Horry County Registration and Elections Office, says many poll workers with health concerns have backed out of working in the primary election.
In result more than 20 precincts have been combined.
Martin says those impacted will receive letters in the mail with the address to their temporary polling place.
Fry believes the absentee voting option will fill the void.
“It gives people the option to go ahead and get their absentee ballots mailed to them if they want to vote by mail, or they can go vote in person, locally in Conway, South Carolina,” said Fry.
Voters heading to the polls will also experience some changes while voting.
While not required, voters are encouraged to wear masks.
Poll workers will wear PPE such as masks, face shields, and gloves.
Voters are asked to bring their own pens to sign in, in effort to avoid cross contamination.
Q-tips will be provided for voters to use on touchscreen ballot machines.
Machines themselves will also be spread out as much as possible.
Absentee voters will need to request ballots soon and applying online cuts the mailing process in half.
The provision expires on July 1, 2020, and does not apply to any elections after that date.
“This action by the General Assembly and Governor McMaster, which we greatly appreciate, will go a long way in protecting the health and safety of every South Carolinian,” said Marci Andino, Executive Director of the S.C. State Election Commission. “All voters now have a safe alternative to voting at their polling place in June.”
- Any voter can now select Reason 18 – State of Emergency on the absentee application.
- If voting absentee by mail:
- Get your application now and return it as soon as possible.
- Once you receive your ballot, vote the ballot, and return it as soon as possible.
- If voting absentee in person:
Vote on Election Day
- Election officials are taking steps to protect the health of voters and poll managers:
- Poll managers will receive special Covid-19 training on applying social distancing and maintaining sanitary conditions in the polling place.
- Election officials are working to source:
- Masks, face shields and gloves for poll managers.
- Sneeze guards for check-in stations.
- Sanitizing wipes for cleaning common surfaces.
- Hand sanitizer for voters and poll managers.
- Cotton swabs for making selections on the touchscreen.
- Check-in stations and voting equipment will be spaced at least six feet apart.
- Some polling places will be relocated or consolidated due to the pandemic. Some facilities have declined to be used, and some poll managers have declined to serve. Election officials are working to find new locations and recruit new managers; however, some voters will vote at a different polling place.
- Voters should prepare by:
- Making sure your address is up to date.
- Bringing your Photo ID (or voter registration card if you do not have a Photo ID).
- Checking your polling place at scVOTES.org before going to the polls.
- Wearing a protective mask if you have one.
- Bringing your own pen for signing the poll list.
- Practicing social distancing by spacing yourself at least six feet apart from others.
- Being patient. We are all in this together.