1. SC Voter Registration Deadlines is Oct 4, 30 days before Nov 3, 2020.

  2. Stage 3 -- No excuse is required to vote by mail.
  3. Online registration available.

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Voter Issues



Jamie Harrison lost

Joe Cunningham lost

Adair Ford Boroughs


South Carolina: The Supreme Court has overturned a 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that had suspended the witness requirement for absentee mail ballots, ruling that it was too close to Election Day to make such changes under a principle designed to avoid voter confusion, but this ruling may just do that very thing.

In its Oct. 5 decision, the court held that those who had already voted by mail—more than 150,000 ballots had already been mailed out and an unknown number returned—could still have them count if they lacked a witness signature but were received by election officials no later than Oct. 7. However, in light of the Trump administration's effort to sabotage postal delivery service to stymie mail voting, voters could have legally mailed a valid vote days before the ruling only for it to arrive after the Oct. 7 deadline and thus be rejected.

Three of the most right-wing justices on the court—Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Clarence Thomas—would have gone even further and thrown out even votes cast before the ruling came down if they lacked a witness signature.

Separately, voting rights advocates have filed two additional federal lawsuits seeking to expand voting access. The first one aims to require officials to notify voters and give them a chance to fix purported problems with their mail ballot signature. The second seeks an extension of South Carolina's Oct. 4 voter registration deadline, noting that the pandemic has upended normal avenues for voter registration activity.

• South Carolina: The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, has blocked South Carolina from requiring that absentee ballots be signed by a sitness. Republicans have asked the Supreme Court for an emergency stay of the ruling.

Separately, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster has signed a bill allowing all voters to request an absentee ballot for the November election, much as the state did for its primaries earlier this year.



• South Carolina: South Carolina's Republican-controlled state Senate has unanimously passed a bill to let all voters vote by mail this November instead of requiring a specific excuse for voters under age 65, though GOP senators balked at a Democratic proposal to allow drop boxes and waive the witness signature requirement for mail voting, which is the subject of multiple ongoing lawsuits. The prospect of this legislation passing the GOP-run state House is less certain, with House Republicans not returning to session until Sept. 15.



• South Carolina: Two voters, who are represented by an attorney from the South Carolina Democratic Party, have filed a suit before the state Supreme Court asking that the justices order officials to make a broad swath of changes to their procedures for carrying out the November general election.

In particular, the plaintiffs want the state to allow voters to cast absentee ballots without an excuse; the ability to request absentee ballots online; the elimination of the requirement that ballots be witnessed; the establishment of an early voting period; and drop boxes and curbside voting options.

JULY 2020


South Carolina: South Carolina's state Election Commission has announced that it will provide prepaid postage on all absentee ballots this year amid an ongoing federal lawsuit by Democrats seeking to ease access to absentee voting. Democrats are still challenging the requirement that voters must provide a valid excuse, which the GOP waived for the primaries but has left untouched for November.

APRIL 2020

• South Carolina: On Wednesday, Democrats filed a lawsuit with South Carolina's Supreme Court to allow anyone to vote absentee by mail this year due to concerns over coronavirus. Civil rights groups shortly thereafter filed a separate lawsuit in federal court seeking to both relax the excuse requirement and eliminate the need for voters to have a witness sign their mail ballot envelope. South Carolina currently requires an excuse to vote absentee for all voters under age 65 and doesn't offer in-person early voting.

• South Carolina: South Carolina's Republican-run legislature met for a one-day session on Wednesday but failed to take up recommendations issued by the state's Election Commission to ensure the June 9 downballot primaries can run properly despite the threat of the coronavirus, such as removing the requirement that voters present an excuse to request an absentee ballot.


The House unanimously passed a stopgap funding bill that included $15 million for election safety measures, but the session collapsed after the Senate passed a slightly different bill due to an entirely unrelated dispute over a state-owned utility company.

Republican House Speaker Jay Lucas reacted angrily, calling the Senate's move "a shameless abdication of leadership." The House also declined to pass a resolution specifying when it would return. This failure affects much more than the primary: Because lawmakers have yet to pass a budget for the coming year, that means South Carolina's state government could shut down when current funding runs out on July 1.

• South Carolina: South Carolina's Election Commission has made a number of recommendations to Republican Gov. Henry McMaster and the GOP-run legislature to ensure the state's elections can run properly despite the threat of the coronavirus. Those suggestions include:

  • Removing the excuse requirement to vote absentee

  • Allowing voters to request absentee ballots online

  • Removing the requirement to have witnesses sign absentee ballots

  • Moving to a vote-by-mail system in which every voter would be sent a ballot

  • Allowing early voting for the first time

Lawmakers would have to pass a bill to enact these changes, or to postpone the state's June 9 downballot primaries. However, legislators recently adjourned without taking any action on elections and have not set a date to reconvene, while McMaster has said he will defer to the legislature.

MARCH 2020

• South Carolina: Election officials in South Carolina are weighing whether to implement excuse-free absentee voting and early voting, as well as moving to an all-mail election for the state's June 9 downballot primaries. Any changes would require an executive order by Republican Gov. Henry McMaster or action by the GOP legislature.


• South Carolina: South Carolina's Republican-run state government has agreed to a settlement in a lawsuit brought by the Democratic Party that would end the state's requirement that voters provide their full Social Security number on voter registration forms and instead ask voters only for the last four digits

Plaintiffs had sued last year and argued that requiring the full number potentially intimidated voters by opening them up to the risk of identity theft. They also noted that nearly every other state uses some other identifier. If the federal court where the case was filed approves the settlement, voter registration forms and training instructions for election workers will likely be updated in time for the 2020 elections.