Time is Running Short for Absentee by Mail Voters
Absentee Voting Up more than 20% over 2012
COLUMBIA, SC (October 26, 2016) – The S.C. State Election Commission wants to make sure voters who need to vote absentee by mail return their applications as soon as possible to ensure they are able to return their ballots prior to the election day deadline.
According to the U.S. Postal Service, the transit time for first class mail is a minimum of two days and can be as many as five days. Voters should be aware of these transit times when voting absentee by mail.
What this means for voters:
- Absentee by mail voters should submit their applications by Friday, October 28to ensure ample time for receiving and returning their ballots. Ballots must be received by county voter registration and election offices by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day.
- Anyone who submits an application after Friday, October 28runs a serious risk of not being able to complete the process by mail.
- If a voter submits an application for a mail-in absentee ballot prior to 5:00 p.m.on November 4, county voter registration and elections offices are required by law to mail the voter a ballot. While a ballot mailed from a county voter registration and elections office on November 4 may reach the voter in time, there will not be time to return the ballot by mail. In this case, the voter must return the ballot in person by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day.
- If you receive your mail-in absentee ballot and are concerned that you won’t be able to mail it back in time, you can drop your ballot off at your county voter registration and elections office.
- Voters who need to vote absentee but are concerned about completing the process by mail can vote absentee in person at their county voter registration and elections office up until 5:00 p.m.on Monday, November 7.
How to Vote Absentee:
Qualified voters (reasons listed below) may vote absentee in person or by mail:
In Person – Visit your county voter registration and elections office, complete an application, and cast your ballot. You may vote absentee in person up until 5:00 p.m. on Monday, November 7.
All county voter registration and elections offices are open during regular business hours, Monday – Friday, and will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 5.
By Mail –
Step 1: Get an absentee application in one of two ways:
- Get the application online at scVOTES.org.Follow this link to get your application online. To get your application online, you must be able to print your application.
- Request an application from your county voter registration and elections office by phone, mail, email, or fax. You will be mailed an application. Consider mail transit times for requesting an application by mail.
Step 2: Complete and sign the application and return it to your county voter registration office as soon as possible. You can return the application by email, fax or mail (not recommended at this date). Voters should return applications by Friday, October 28 to ensure ample mail transit time. Any application received prior to 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 4 will be processed and a ballot mailed. Voters who submit an absentee by mail application after October 28 run the risk of being unable to complete the absentee voting process by mail.
Step 3: You will be mailed an absentee ballot.
Step 4: Vote the ballot following ballot instructions and return it to your county voter registration office no later than 7:00 p.m.on November 8. You may return the ballot personally or by mail. Consider mail transit times in deciding how to return your ballot.
Absentee Voting Up More Than 20% over 2012
As of today, approximately 246,000 absentee ballots have been issued statewide (includes in person and by mail). This is approximately 20% more than the number of absentee ballots that had been issued 13 days prior to the last presidential election (2012).
By the numbers:
|Approx. numbers 13 days prior to 2012 GE (10-24-2012)||Approx. numbers 13 days prior to 2016 GE (10-26-2016)||Percent Increase|
- Approximately 395,000 absentee ballots were cast in the 2012 General Election, the most absentee ballots ever cast in an election in South Carolina.
- Approximately 20 percent of the total ballots cast in the 2012 General Election were absentee ballots.
Voters qualified to vote by absentee ballot:
- Students attending school outside their county of residence and their spouses and dependents
- Members of the Armed Forces or Merchant Marine serving outside their county of residence and their spouses and dependents residing with them (click here for additional information)
- Persons serving with the American Red Cross or United Service Organizations (USO) serving with the Armed Forces outside their county of residence and their spouses and dependents
- Persons who, for reasons of employment, will not be able to vote on election day
- Physically disabled persons
- Government employees serving outside their county of residence on Election Day and their spouses and dependents residing with them
- Persons with a death or funeral in the family within three daysbefore the election
- Persons who plan to be on vacation outside their county of residence on Election Day
- Certified poll watchers, poll managers, and county election officials working on Election Day
- Overseas Citizens (click here for additional information)
- Persons attending sick or physically disabled persons
- Persons admitted to the hospital as emergency patients on Election Day or within a four-day period before the election
- Persons serving as a juror in state or federal court on Election Day
- Persons sixty-five years of age or older
- Persons confined to a jail or pre-trial facility pending disposition of arrest or trial