Voters head to the polls today to cast their ballots for a number of races on the local, state and national level. Here are a few things that you might find helpful as you cast your ballot.
Q. What candidates and/or offices are on the ballot today?
A. The candidates and offices on a particular ballot will differ depending on the county and districts in which you reside. To find out what candidates will appear on ballots in your county visit www.scVOTES.org and click “General Election Candidates by County,” or call your county election commission. If you don’t know your districts, use the “Check Your Voter Registration” feature to find your districts first.
Q. Where do I vote?
A. At the polling place in your precinct. Your precinct and polling place are listed on your voter registration card. To ensure your polling place hasn’t changed since your card was issued, check your voter registration by visiting www.scVOTES.org and clicking “Check Your Voter Registration.” This feature will allow you to pull up a map from your house to your polling place.
Q. What hours will the polls be open?
A. Polling places are open 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Anyone in line at 7:00 p.m. will be allowed to vote.
Q. Is the new Photo ID law in effect?
A. No, the new photo ID rules are NOT in effect for any elections in 2012, including the November 6th General Election. The rules for providing ID in the 2012 General Election are addressed in the next question. To learn more about the new rules that begin on January 1, 2013, visit www.scvotes.org.
Q. What do I need to take with me to the polls to vote?
A. You will be required to show any one of the following items to vote:
*If you registered by mail and did not include identification with your application, and you are voting for the first time since registering; you will not be allowed to vote with only your voter registration card. You will be asked to complete the voter registration process by providing one of the following IDs: Either a valid photo ID such as a driver’s license or DMV-issued ID card; or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or other government document that shows your name and address in the county.
Q. I’ve lost my voter registration card. Can I still vote?
A. Yes. Voters may also vote with their driver’s license or a DMV issued ID card. Voters may also get a replacement card from their county voter registration office.
Q. How does straight party voting work?
A. Whether to vote “Straight Party” is the first choice a voter must make on a General Election ballot. Voting straight party is optional. Each political party that has nominated a candidate appearing on the voter’s ballot is represented in the straight party selection area. If a party is selected under straight party, every candidate of that party is automatically selected. The voter then has the option of changing their vote for any particular office (also known as “crossover voting”) simply by touching the candidate of choice for that office. Voters should also be aware that when voting straight party no selection is made for nonpartisan offices and questions. These contests must be voted individually. As always, voters should carefully review their choices on the review screen before casting their ballot.
Q. I’ve moved since the last election and haven’t updated my voter registration card. Can I still vote?
A. If the voter moved to…
1. …another residence within his precinct, he can vote at his polling place but must first fill out a change of address form.
2. …a different precinct within his county, he is eligible vote a failsafe ballot.
3. …another residence in another county within 30 days of the primary, he is eligible to vote a failsafe ballot.
4. …another residence in another county prior to 30 days before the primary, he is not eligible to vote.
Two Options for Voting Failsafe:
1. The voter may vote at the polling place in his previous precinct using a failsafe ballot.
2. The voter may go to the voter registration office in the county in which he currently resides, change his address, and vote there.
Q. I saw a candidate/member of candidate’s campaign at my polling place talking to voters. Can he do that?
A. Yes, but there are restrictions:
-Inside the polling place: No campaigning is allowed. Candidates may be inside the polling place and talk to voters as long as they are not campaigning, intimidating voters, or interfering with the election process.
-Within 200 feet of an entrance to a polling place: Candidates and campaign staff may campaign as long as they are not intimidating voters or interfering with the election process. However, no campaign literature, signs, or posters are allowed. Candidates are allowed to wear a badge no larger than 4.25” x 4.25” featuring only the candidate’s name and office sought. Candidates must remove their badge upon entering a polling place.
-Outside 200 feet of an entrance to a polling place: does not fall under the jurisdiction of the poll clerk.
Q. A candidate is definitely campaigning while in the polling place, or there is campaign literature within 200 feet of the entrance. What can I do?
A. Inform the poll clerk immediately. If the issue is not resolved, contact the county election commission and inform them of the situation. The election commission will address the complaint.
Q. Can candidates or their representatives take people to the polls to vote?
Q. When and where will results be reported?
A. Unofficial results will be reported by the SEC on election night at www.scVOTES.org. Results are reported in real time as we receive them from each county election commission. Results may also be reported locally by county election commissions.
Q. When is a recount necessary?
A. When the difference between any candidate declared nominated and any other candidate not declared nominated is 1% or less of the total votes cast for all candidates for that office, a recount is mandatory.
Q. Do employers have to give you time off to vote?
A. No. There is no state or federal law mandating that employers must give time off to employees to cast their vote. Voters who know they will not be able to visit the polls on Election Day should apply to vote absentee before the day of the election.
Q. Can alcoholic beverages be sold on Election Day?
A. Yes, but not in liquor stores. State law prohibits retail liquor sales on the day of the General Election. For more information contact the S.C. Department of Revenue, (803) 898-5864.
Q. Can lottery tickets be sold on Election Day?
A. No. State law prohibits the sale and validation of lottery tickets on Election Day. For more information, contact the S.C. Education Lottery at (803) 737-2002.
Q. Are there any laws about candidates posting their signs along the roadway?
A. Yes, there are several state laws addressing political signs on roadways, as well as county and municipal ordinances. See S.C. Code of Laws Sections 57-25-10, 57-25-140, and 7-25-210. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the entity that maintains the road (state, county, or municipality) to enforce applicable sign laws.
Q. When I left the polls, I was asked to participate in an “exit poll.” Is this legal?
A. Exit polls are legal and participation is voluntary. They are NOT conducted by the State Election Commission or the county election commissions. Generally, polls may not be conducted inside the polling place, and we ask that voters not be approached before they have voted. If a voter feels threatened or intimidated by a pollster, it should be reported immediately to the precinct’s poll clerk.
Q. Where can I file a complaint about the election?
A. Any complaints regarding the election can be addressed to your county election commission.