Time to Vote

 Charleston election staff members are preparing for more voters than ever to cast absentee ballots in November. With high-stakes contests on tap nationally and a pandemic still bearing down, there are a few important things everyone should understand to cast votes and get involved.

Register to vote

The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 4, but since that falls on a Sunday, you can mail in your registration on Oct. 5. If you have moved since the last election, you will need to update your voter registration information at scvotes.gov by the deadline.

Consider being a poll manager

Despite higher than expected use of absentee ballots this year, many South Carolina voters will still line up at the polls on
Nov. 4. That means diligent, civic-minded people are needed to help make the process go smoothly. In Charleston County alone, more than 100 polling locations will need to be staffed to make sure everyone who shows up can cast their ballots. Thanks to a grant, Charleston County poll workers will be paid $265 for the day, with increases for technicians and poll clerks. Apply at chsvotes.org. Do you live in Berkeley or Dorchester counties? They’re hiring workers too: Visit berkeleycountysc.gov and dorchestercountysc.gov for info.

Consider voting absentee

Voting absentee in South Carolina is a simple process, but can get a little tedious. State law requires voters to declare a reason why they are voting absentee, but those rules could be expanded this week in light of the pandemic.

State lawmakers will likely vote to include the COVID-19 pandemic as a recognized reason for voting absentee as soon as this week, so be watching for updates. Regardless of any changes, if you normally work on election day, that is already an approved reason to vote absentee.

If you want to mail your absentee ballot, request it now. First, visit scvotes.org to ask for a ballot application. Complete the application and return it via mail, email, fax or in person at the county election office (4367 Headquarters Road). If you have already sent in your application, Charleston County will mail ballots Oct. 2. South Carolina voters have until the Friday before the election (Oct. 30) to request an absentee ballot. But please note: That likely won’t leave enough time to return your absentee ballot by mail, but you can deliver it in person to county election HQ.

In-person absentee voting starts soon. Charleston County election officials plan to offer four voting locations, with North Charleston Coliseum opening first on Oct. 5. Three other in-person absentee locations are slated to open Oct. 19: Seacoast Church Mount Pleasant (750 Long Point Road), Seacoast Church West Ashley (2049 Savannah Hwy.) and the main library downtown (68 Calhoun St.). Polls will be open weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and two Saturdays (Oct. 24 and Oct. 31) 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Help out

Voting in elections is a fundamental responsibility of a citizen.  Become familiar with voting rules and help your friends and acquaintances cast their ballots. When in doubt, refer people to scvotes.gov for state registration info and chsvotes.org for local voting information. And you can always check charlestoncitypaper.com for the latest updates and links to all the information above.