Making Democracy Work

Voter Registration For SC College Students

Who Can Register?

In order to vote, South Carolina law requires one must first register to vote at least 30 days prior to the election. To be eligible to register in South Carolina you MUST:

  • be a United States citizen
  • be at least eighteen years old on or before the next election
  • be a resident of South Carolina, this county and precinct
  • not be under a court order declaring you mentally incompetent
  • not be confined in any public prison resulting from a conviction of a crime
  • have never been convicted of a felony or offense against the election laws OR if previously convicted, have served the entire sentence, including probation or parole, or have received a pardon for the conviction.

There is no length of residency requirement in South Carolina in order to register to vote. You can register at any time.

Options for Voter Registration While Attending College

➢ If you are from in state, have a current SC driver's license or DMV ID, and would like to register and vote at your South Carolina college address, you can....

  • Register Online as directed. First update with your college street address. You may revert back to your home address after an election. Make sure to also enter your mailing address if you use a campus post office box.

  • You can also check to see if you are already registered to vote and request to vote absentee by mail from your home address.

➢ If you are from out of state and want to register to vote or vote absentee in your home state, you can access a national online voter registration form and get information about absentee voting from Rock the Vote or TurboVote.

➢ If you are from out of state and you would like to register and vote at your South Carolina college address, or if you are from in state and do not have a SC driver's license or DMV ID, you need to...

If you register to vote at your county board of elections, or if they come to campus to offer voter registration, you may present your college ID and be photographed for a SC Voter Photo ID card. You will at that time receive a voter registration card with where you will go to vote, and your U.S. House, SC Senate & House, County Council, School and Municipal voting districts. You will receive the Voter Photo ID card via mail in approximately two weeks.

If you are mailing, faxing or scanning your form, you will receive your non-photo voter registration card via mail in approximately two weeks. If you do not submit the required identification (current and valid college photo ID, utility bill or bank statement showing you are a resident of the county) you will be required to do so at polls prior to voting.

You are not required to show your voter registration card (unless serving as your photo ID) when you go to vote, but you will need to show one of the accepted five options for photo ID.

Deadline to Register to Vote

Voter registration closes 30 days prior to any election. For example, the voter registration deadline for a November 5th election would be October 5th.

Voting At Your Polling Place

The polling location is listed on your Voter Registration Card. Preview your sample ballot in advance.

South Carolina requires a photo ID when you vote. Any of the following current IDs will qualify:

  • S.C. Driver's License
  • ID Card issued by S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles (Note: The address on your driver's license or DMV ID does not have to match the address on your voter registration card.)
  • S.C. Voter Registration Card with Photo
  • Federal Military ID
  • U.S. Passport

If you cannot get a photo ID: Bring your non-photo voter registration card with you to the polling place. You may vote a provisional ballot after signing an affidavit stating you have a reasonable impediment to obtaining Photo ID. A reasonable impediment is any valid reason, beyond your control, which created an obstacle to obtaining a Photo ID. Some examples include:
  • a disability or illness
  • a conflict with your work schedule
  • a lack of transportation
  • a lack of a birth certificate
  • family responsibilities
  • a religious objection to being photographed
  • any other obstacle you find reasonable

This ballot will count unless someone proves to the election commission that you are lying about your identity or about having the listed impediment. To vote under the reasonable impediment exception:
1. Inform the poll managers that you do not have a photo ID and could not get one.
2. Present your current, non-photo registration card.
3. Sign the affidavit provided by the poll managers stating why you could not obtain a Photo ID.
4. Cast a provisional ballot that will be counted unless the county election commission has reason to believe your affidavit is false.

FAQ: Voting and Financial Aid, Scholarships, or Tuition

Q:Will voting in South Carolina affect my federal financial aid?
A:Where you register to vote will not affect federal financial aid such as Pell Grants and Perkins or Stafford loans or your dependency status regarding FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

Q:Does being an out-of-state student for tuition purposes affect my right to vote in my college community?
A:No. You may choose to vote in your college community or back home regardless of your tuition status.

Q:Will I lose my scholarship if I register to vote in South Carolina?
A:Generally, no. If you receive scholarship money from a state, county, town, or a private entity (i.e., an entity other than the federal government) you should confirm that residency in a particular place is not a requirement of the scholarship and/or that voter registration in South Carolina will not affect your eligibility.

Q:Will registering to vote in South Carolina affect my driver's license or car registration?
A:No. South Carolina does not require newly registered voters to obtain a South Carolina driver's license or register their vehicles there.

Q:Will registering to vote in South Carolina prevent my parents from claiming me as a dependent on their taxes?
A:No. Students are often told that registering to vote in a different state from their parents will make them lose their dependency status. This is not true. Where you register to vote will have no effect on your parent's tax status.