COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) – Every voter in South Carolina is now qualified to vote absentee in the June primaries and runoffs, according to the S.C. Election Commission.
On Wednesday, Gov. Henry McMaster signed into law legislation passed May 12 by the General Assembly that authorizes any voter to vote absentee in any election in June 2020.
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.”
At the Horry County Voter Registration and Election Department in Conway, preparations are underway for those who choose to still cast their ballot in person.
Director Sandy Martin said they’ve received face shields, masks and gloves from the state for poll workers.
Voters will also use q-tips to make selections on voting machines instead of their fingers.
Staff members will get special training on COVID-19 precautions, such as making sure people stand six feet apart.
However, Martin said a lot of staff members decided not to work the primaries out of fear of the coronavirus. They had to close more than a dozen precincts and combine them with surrounding locations.
“Some locations we couldn’t use and some we just didn’t have people to staff them,” she said.
Ultimately, Martin said it’s the individual’s responsibility to protect themselves against the virus.
“Maybe a lot of people will vote ahead of time and the lines won’t be so bad at the precincts, but just be prepared for that and take your own precautions as well,” Martin said.
All voters now have two options to exercise their right to vote in the 2020 Statewide Primaries and Runoffs.
• Any voter can now select Reason 18 – State of Emergency on the absentee application.
• If voting absentee by mail:
o Get your application now and return it as soon as possible.
o Once you receive your ballot, vote the ballot, and return it as soon as possible.
• If voting absentee in person:
o Visit your county voter registration office or a satellite absentee location.
o Click here for a full list of locations.
o Bring your Photo ID if you have one.
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; and 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; check your registration; Update your address; 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.