COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — South Carolina voters began casting their ballots Tuesday for the statewide June primaries.
State lawmakers passed legislation that established two weeks of no-excuse early voting ahead of the state’s elections. It was signed into law earlier this month by Gov. Henry McMaster.
William Norris voted early Tuesday in Richland County, stopping by the county voter registration and elections office with his wife and sister-in-law.
“It was more or less in and out,” Norris said. “We were able to get in, get processed, we voted, they gave us a sticker and we were out the door.”
Early voting centers will be open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. until June 10. Counties can have up to seven early voting locations. Most have one location at their county voter registration and elections office.
For a list of early voting, locations click or tap here.
Officials with the South Carolina State Election Commission said no-excuse early voting will feel like casting your ballot on Election Day.
“It’s two whole weeks you can go vote exactly as you do on Election Day,” said Chris Whitmire, the agency’s deputy executive director. “No more excuses or having to meet one of those reasons to vote absentee and have to submit an application.”
Norris said he hopes no-excuse early voting will make things more convenient for voters in South Carolina.
“I’ve always voted absentee in this state,” he said. “We got two weeks. That gives you plenty of time to look at your calendar, set a date, and come out and vote.”
Voting absentee by mail is still available in South Carolina but the qualifications to vote absentee changed under the new law.
According to the SEC, voters 65 or older, voters with disabilities, military voters or voters absent from the county for any reason can request a mail-in ballot. Officials said voters who are absent from the county, have employment obligations, who are attending a person with an illness or disability, or anyone in jail pending a trial must be unable to vote during the entire early voting period and on election day. Previously, the voter had to be absent only on election day.
The procedure to get an absentee application has also changed. New applications must be submitted 11 days before an election instead of four. So for the statewide primaries, the deadline is June 3. The applications must be requested by phone, mail or in person. Online requests are no longer allowed.
State election officials said a photo ID is now required when returning a ballot in person. New witness requirement changes also go into effect in July.