Voter Communications Bulletin
Issue No. 2
As the premier voter education, voter registration, and GOTV organization in Beaufort County, the League of Women Voters of Hilton Head Island - Bluffton Area (LWVHHI-BA) seeks to provide all voting-eligible citizens with the information needed to Empower Voters and Defend Democracy. As a result, eligible voters frequently contact the LWVHHI-BA to ask questions about how to register to vote, if their previous registrations are still active, polling places, how to become a poll worker, and, this year in particular, the safety of voting in- person or by absentee voting. This is the second issue a series of communications that the LWVHHI-BA will be providing through this election season as service to our neighbors, friends, and families so they can have the knowledge they are asking for as they prepare to cast their ballots, given the present closure of county offices.
Our VOTE411.org website provides voters with yet another resource with information on the positions on important issues by candidates seeking office as our U.S. Senators at the federal level to County Council and Board of Education candidates at the local level.
PLEASE NOTE that on September 16, Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill previously passed first by the SC Senate and then by the State House of representatives making absentee voting available for all registered voters for the November 3 elections only.
Eight (8) Frequently Asked Questions:
1. How can I register to vote, update my address on my voter registration record, or check my voter status?
The Beaufort and Bluffton satellite offices are open to the public for you to register to vote, update your address, or check your voter status. A Voter Registration application can also be requested by telephone (843) 255-6900 or by email to Vote.Beaufort [at] Elections.SC.Gov. Citizens with a SC Driver’s License or SC Id card issued by SCDMV, can register online at scvotes.gov. In addition, our League of Women Voters stands ready to help you register. Please email us at thelighthouselwvhhiba [at] gmail.com and we will get back to you to walk you through the registration process.
2. I have always voted in-person, but given the coronavirus, I want to know how I can get an absentee ballot?
To request an absentee ballot, you must first complete an application. The application can be requested via phone (843) 255-6900, email (Vote.Beaufort [at] Elections.SC.Gov), or online at scvotes.gov. With the addition to the bill approved by Gov. McMaster, all eligible voters may request an absentee voting application. Complete and sign the application and return it to the Voter Registration office as soon as possible; the address is at the bottom right-hand corner of the application. Don’t forget to put a stamp on the envelope. Return your ballot in the pre-paid return ballot envelope that is provided for you in your absentee voting package.
You will NOT have to put a stamp on the return ballot envelope to mail your completed ballot. All ballots MUST BE RECEIVED BY THE VOTER REGISTRATION & ELECTION OFFICE NO LATER THAN 7:00 pm on Election Day (November 3rd). APPLY NOW for an absentee ballot to ensure you have ample time to complete the absentee process, and your ballot is counted. The Board of VR & E will begin to mail out absentee ballots beginning the first week in October. NOTE: Only one ballot should be included in the ballot return envelope. Spouses cannot return their ballots in the same envelope. Each returned ballot must be signed by the voter and witnessed.
3. Will my ballot be counted if I vote absentee?
You may have heard that absentee or mail-in ballots in other states have been lost or not counted. Some of this information is inaccurate, but more importantly, there is no evidence of this having happened in the June Republican primary where no-excuse absentee voting was widely used for the first time in our state and county, largely because of COVID-19. The Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration and Elections and the regional and local USPS offices have a positive inter-agency relationship and are working together to keep our absentee voting safe for the General Election. The US Postal Service has sent out postcards to households stating the service’s commitment to getting your absentee mail-in voting to the Board of Elections on time. You may have gotten one.
4. Can I track my absentee ballot to be sure it gets to the Board of Elections on-time?
If you go to scvotes.gov, you can also check your Voter Absentee Status through the Voters dropdown at the top left of the Home page. As with all mailings, you can pay extra when you mail in your ballot so that you can have a tracking number by the USPS to track your ballot from mailing to delivery. You can also call the Board of Elections at (843) 255-6900 after you have mailed your absentee ballot to check that it has been received. Wait about a week to check with the Board of Elections.
5. Can I drop my absentee ballot at the Board of Elections or at other community sites?
Absentee ballots can be dropped off in-person or by authorized representatives of the voter at the Board of VR & E offices in Beaufort and its satellite locations in Bluffton and Hilton Head, during normal operating hours. Operating hours at the satellite offices: M-F 9 am – 4 pm. The state legislature did NOT approve secure drop boxes at the Board of VR & E offices or anywhere else in South Carolina.
6. Can I decide to vote in-person after receiving an absentee mail-in ballot?
Yes, you can vote in-person as long as you have not filled out your absentee ballot and mailed it in. Contact the Board of Elections (843-255-69000 for details.
7. May I vote if I have been imprisoned or if I am homeless?
Yes, you can vote since you are still a citizen, with the following caveats. A person who is a felon must have served his/her sentence and paid any and all financial fines/obligations to register to vote. A former felon will also need written proof from his/her Parole Officer that these obligations have been met; however, it is not required.
A citizen who is a homeless person leading to the time he/she will want to vote can register
online and in-person as long as he/she can use a valid address such as a relative’s home
address or a homeless shelter address where he/she already receives mail. Please check with the Beaufort VR & E Office by calling (843) 255-6900 to be sure the address you want to use is appropriate. You do NOT need to have utility or rent bills in your name to register.
As is true for anyone trying to register to vote, both citizens who are homeless or who have
served their prison sentences, eligible citizens CANNOT use a PO Box to register to vote.
8. I’ve heard that additional Poll Workers are needed for the General Election, how can I sign up to be a Poll Worker/Poll Manager?
If you are willing and able to serve, South Carolina needs you. The fact is, we must have
poll managers in order to conduct elections. Unless new poll managers step up to serve,
we expect counties will have to close and consolidate polling places, which can cause
large crowds and long lines for voters. Since the June Primary, Beaufort County has
received over 600 new poll worker applications.
Due to Covid-19, the South Carolina Election Commission and the County Election
Officials are taking steps to help make polling places as safe as possible for voters and
poll managers, by providing masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, and
disposable cotton swabs for making touchscreen selections on the voting machine.
To become a Poll Worker, sign up at https://noexcusesc.com/apply-to-be-a-pollmanager/.
Poll workers generally are paid $60 for training + $75 for working on Election
Day = $135 Total. Due to Covid-19, all new poll workers will be required to take an online
training class developed by the South Carolina Election Commission. Again, additional
information is available at scvotes.gov at the Poll Workers dropdown on the Home page.
Important Voting Dates:
September 22, 2020, is National Voter Registration Day
October Deadlines to Register to Vote
- October 2, Deadline to Register to Vote in Person
- October 4, Deadline to Register to Vote by fax or email or online
- October 5, Deadline to Register to Vote by Mail
- October 30, Deadline to Apply for Absentee Ballot by Mail
November Voting Deadline Dates
- November 2, Deadline to Vote Absentee in Person
- November 3, Election Day