VOTING 101: Answers to frequently asked questions about SC absentee voting

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Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 2:53 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Absentee voting is underway in South Carolina, but a recent Supreme Court ruling on witness signatures and the expansion of absentee voting has caused some confusion among voters.

Below are the S.C. Election Commission’s responses to some of the most common questions viewers have sent into the WIS newsroom.

WIS: What if I requested a ballot by mail but now prefer to vote in-person absentee?

S.C. ELECTIONS: If you have applied for an absentee by mail ballot, you should wait on your mail-in ballot to arrive. Once you have your ballot, you should vote it and return it as soon as possible (either by mail or in person).

If you decide you want to vote in-person absentee, you can do so. If you have received your ballot, you can bring it with you, but it is not required. If you want to vote in person on election day, you will have to return your absentee ballot to the voter registration office before being authorized to vote at your polling place.

WIS: Will voting offices be open on Saturdays?

S.C. ELECTIONS: All county voter registration offices will be open on Saturday, October 31 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Some counties may be holding other weekend hours. For a full list of county extension offices and dates and hours of operation: In-Person Absentee Extension Offices for the 2020 General Election

WIS: How long does it take to get your absentee ballot after sending in the application?

S.C. ELECTIONS: It can vary. Go to and click “Check My Absentee Ballot.” There you will see the date your application was issued, the date it was received by the county office, the date your ballot was issued, and the date your ballot was received by the county office. Once you application is received, give it a couple of days and check to see if it was issued. If so, give it three or four says to arrive in the mail.

WIS: How early do I have to get in an absentee ballot for it to be counted on Election Day?

S.C. ELECTIONS: The deadline is 7:00 p.m. on Election Day but you should return your ballot as soon as possible. County election officials will begin processing by mail ballots at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 1, and begin tabulating ballots at 7:00 a.m. on Election Day. They will count until every ballot has been counted.

We expect most counties to complete this process on Election Night. Depending on the eventual volume of by-mail ballots, it is possible that a county could continue into the next day.

WIS: What if I don’t have a government-issued Photo ID?

S.C. ELECTIONS: If you’re registered to vote, you can go to your elections office to get a registration card with a photo.

If you don’t have a valid ID bring your registration card and you can fill out a provisional ballot if you sign an affidavit saying you had a reasonable obstacle to obtaining a photo id like a disability or illness, a conflict with your work schedule, a lack of transportation, a lack of a birth certificate, or family responsibilities.

WIS: Who can be a witness?

S.C. ELECTIONS: Anyone, a friend, a spouse, a child. One person could witness multiple ballots.

WIS: Can I track my ballot?

S.C. ELECTIONS: Yes! Go to

WIS: Should I trust the mail?

S.C. ELECTIONS: Yes, USPS places a high priority on moving election mail through the process efficiently and securely. If you’re worried, you can always return your ballot yourself at your county elections office.

WIS: Is voting in-person absentee safer than on election day?

S.C. ELECTIONS: The same COVID-19 safety measures apply to election day and absentee. In-person absentee voters are also spread out over four weeks, which gives voters a better opportunity to vote at their convenience. If you’re worried about crowds and there is a line one day, try the next day or try another location. Many counties are opening absentee extension offices.

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