The deadline to register for the Nov. 3 election in South Carolina passed on Oct. 3, but many voters still have time to make sure all their registration information is correct before heading to cast a ballot, potentially alleviating voting day confusion.
Specifically, registered voters who either moved within their home county or haven’t cast a ballot in many years still have time to make sure their paperwork is squared away.
First, for Horry and Georgetown County voters, registry information can be found on SCvotes.gov. This website will clearly list if a voter is accounted for in the state electorate and what address they are currently registered at.
As long as a South Carolinian hasn’t left the county they were last registered in, they should still ultimately be on the books.
Generally, South Carolina does not kick someone off the registered voting rolls unless they passed away, were convicted of a felony or other specific circumstances outlined by state law.
“Any person who is registered to vote according to law shall remain permanently registered and entitled to all rights and privileges of such registration unless his name is removed from the registration list for cause,” according to the South Carolina Code of Laws, Section 7-5-160, that was passed in the 1960s.
So if someone hasn’t voted in any recent elections despite being registered, but wishes to cast a ballot in 2020, they’re still considered an active voter in this state at the address they originally registered at.
If the state election officials think a voter is no longer eligible, notifications must be sent to the voter’s last registered address to give the chance of an appeal and to the county they’re registered in.
Some voters who skipped past elections may have received postcards from the election office verifying they still live at their registered address, according to South Carolina elections spokesperson Chris Whitmire.
If a voter doesn’t respond to the postcard, they’re deemed inactive, but not removed from the registry. If the election office receives indications that the voter moved, they will remain on the registration list for two more years. If the election office doesn’t hear anything back from the post card, the voter remains on the list for four more years.
As long as the voter is still on the list, they will be allowed to vote after confirming their address.
“So for the majority of voters in these two categories, they may never know that they were inactive,” Whitmire said.
But even if a voter is on the books, they need to be registered at their current address to ensure they do not decide the representative of a district they do not reside in.
South Carolina law requires voters notify the elections office of an address change to ensure voters cast ballots in the correct precinct, district and county because it can have huge impacts on which ballots are given out.
There are more than 100 precincts in Horry County and 35 in Georgetown County, so it doesn’t take a huge move to enter a new precinct and possibly new districts. And moving to a new county drastically can change the local races on the ballot.
Horry County Elections Director Sandy Martin said if a voter moved within their home county and didn’t update their address, there is still time to update it.
“They can call and change their address or fax it in now up until the (Oct.) 23rd. After that the books will be printed,” Martin said.
Changing an address as soon as possible will help election staff update the information well ahead of election day. Even after Oct. 23, voters can still get their address changed but it requires more work from election staff and volunteers.
Voters can cast a failsafe at their original precinct for local and statewide or elections, or they can go to the county election’s office to cast their failsafe ballot. But election officials recommend updating the records now instead of waiting for a failsafe ballot on voting day.
“For voters who moved within their county, they can update their address at any time. They should do it as soon as possible and before the election to avoid having to vote failsafe at the polls,” Whitmire said.
Horry County’s election office is located at 1515 Fourth Avenue in Conway and its phone number is (843) 915-5440. Georgetown County’s election office is at 303 North Hazard Street in the City of Georgetown and can be reached at (843) 545-3339.
If a voter moved to a new county, they would’ve needed to reregister ahead of the Oct. 3 general deadline, according to Martin.