Officials to appeal judge’s order not requiring witness signatures on absentee ballots

Elections

CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — Under state order, the usual witness signature for absentee ballots won’t be required this election.

This comes after Federal Judge Michelle Childs ruled the order due to the increased risk of exposing voters to COVID-19. Officials told News13 the order; however, is in the process of being appealed.

The South Carolina Election Commission voted Monday to join the appeal process along with the House and Senate. A witness signature is usually required to ensure the validity of a voter’s ballot. A spouse, roommate, or co-worker can be a witness.

Chris Whitmire, spokesman for the state Election Commission, hopes a resolution will come before the absentee ballot application deadline which is Oct. 24, but urges everyone to first check their voter registration.

“I encourage voters to go to SCVotes.gov, check their registration,” he said.

“If it’s not up to date or if you’re not registered get that application in before Oct. 4. Before you can even think about voting we got to make sure that we’re registered and everything is good to go,” Whitmire explained.

The Horry County Voters Registration and Elections have received over 35,000 absentee ballot applications. 23,000 of those have already been returned.

Director Sandy Martin said even though a witness signature won’t void your vote, it wouldn’t hurt even if you did.

“You know just to be on the safe side, if people want to have a witness that’s perfectly fine and we’re going to be mailing out our ballot in the next week,” Martin said.

The deadline to register to vote in person is Oct. 2. Mail-in voter registrations must be postmarked by Oct. 5. Online voter registration is due by Oct. 4.

Checking your voter precinct in advance is recommended. All absentee ballots must be received by 7 p.m., Tuesday Nov. 3. If you are returning your ballot by mail it’s preferred to mail it as soon as you can.

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