Making Democracy Work

Frequently Asked Questions about Voter Registration

Once you've registered, become familiar with SC's voting machines: Using SC's Electronic Voting Machines - Learn how to complete your ballot on SC's iVotronic touch-screen voting machines.

Who can register to vote?

To register to vote in South Carolina, you must:
  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be at least 18 years old on or before Election Day
  • Be a resident of South Carolina

Who cannot register to vote?

A person cannot register to vote if he/she is:
  • Confined in a public prison resulting from the conviction of a crime
  • Serving time for being convicted of a felony or offense against the election laws
  • Under supervision of the Department of Probation, Pardons and Parole resulting from the conviction of a felony or offense against the election laws
  • Under a court order declaring him/her mentally incompetent

Can ex-offenders register to vote?

Yes, South Carolina residents who have completely served their sentences, including probation or parole, CAN register to vote. More more information, please click here.

What is the deadline to register to vote?

A person can register to vote at any time; however, the deadline for a new registration is 30 days prior to the election in which a person wishes to vote.

Who is eligible to vote by absentee ballot?

A person is eligible to vote by absentee ballot if he/she is:
  • Away from their county of residence on election day due to school, employment or vacation
  • A person with physical disabilities
  • Attending a funeral or has a death in the family within a 3-day period of an election
  • A poll manager, certified poll watcher, voter registration board member or staff, or election commission member or staff working on election day
  • Attending sick or physically disabled persons
  • Serving as a juror in state or federal court on election day
  • Admitted to a hospital as an emergency patient on election day or within a 4-day period before an election
  • 65 years of age or older
  • Confined to a jail or pre-trial facility pending disposition of arrest or trial

All absentee voters must apply for their ballot by completing an application form and returning it to the board of voter registration in their county of residence in person or by mail. This application can be submitted anytime during the calendar year in which the election the applicant wishes to vote by absentee ballot is being held. Completed applications must be returned to the county registration board by mail no later than 5:00 p.m. four days prior to Election Day. However, any elector who is qualified to vote absentee may apply for an absentee ballot in person at their county registration board office until 5:00 p.m., the day before the election.

What is Fail-Safe Voting?

If a person has moved and not changed their address with their county Board of Registration after the election books have been printed (roughly 2 weeks prior to an election), they are eligible to vote a fail-safe ballot.

The person must either:

  • Go to the Board of Registration to apply for a change of address and vote a full, complete ballot in person OR
  • Go to their old precinct, inform the poll worker that they have moved, complete a change of address form and vote a limited ballot including state-wide, county-wide, municipal wide and national offices or referenda.

I plan to change my name shortly (marriage/divorce), what name should I use?

Your name needs to match your social security number; when you change your name with social security, update your voter registration.

Must I give my social security number?

Your social security number is required by the South Carolina Code of Laws and is used for internal purposes only. Social Security number does not appear on any report produced by the State Election Commission nor is it released to any unauthorized individual.

Do I need to register with a political party?

You do not have to register with a party if you want to take part in that party's primary, election, caucus, or convention.

Why must I indicate my race or ethnic group?

The federal government requires South Carolina to document race or ethnic group for voters by the National Voter Registration Act.

What if I am uncertain in which county I reside?

The Board of Registration will review and be certain your registration is received by the proper county.

What if I don't know if I am inside the city limits?

It is not necessary; the Board of Registration can determine this.

What if where I am currently living is not a permanent address?

If your voter registration is submitted by mail and it is the first time you have registered to vote in your jurisdiction, you MUST submit current, valid proof of identification with the application or the first time you vote in a federal election. Include one of the following:
  • A COPY of a current and valid photo ID or
  • A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and address in the jurisdiction. Submitting your proof of identification now with the application will allow you to avoid the federal requirement to show this proof at the polling place or, if voting by mail, to avoid sending it in with your mail-in ballot. If you do not provide proof of identification, you may cast a provisional ballot. Voters may also be required to show proof of identification under State law. Remember to update your registration whenever you move to a new location.

If I don't have a home telephone, can I list my cell phone number?

Yes, a cell or work number is fine; any number at which you can be reached with questions regarding your voter registration form.

What if I don't know my previous registration information?

If unknown, leave blank and the Board of Registration will remove your name from wherever else in the state you were registered. If another state, just list state, and county, if known.

Do I need to draw a diagram of the area in which I live?

This is helpful if you reside in a rural area or new development, but not necessary.

* Sign and date the application!