Election Day is Nov. 3, 2020. We encourage every eligible voter to vote – regardless of political affiliation or candidate choice. Because voting is the essence of an enduring democracy. Find more about candidates here. It’s important to make a plan to vote and stick to it. Voting is a habit we want you to develop! This guide can help.
UPDATES: This page updated on 9/18/20 with satellite locations and updated absentee locations, dates and hours. And updated on 9/19 with news that the witness requirement on absentee ballots has been removed by court ruling for this election. That ruling is being appealed so we strongly encourage all voters to get a witness signature on your ballot anyway to ensure there is no way your ballot can be disqualified. Anyone can be your witness: a neighbor, your doctor, the guy who comes to fix your kitchen sink. Updated 9/24: Federal appeals court reinstates witness requirement on absentee ballots.
First things first. Are you registered to vote? Have you moved since the last time you voted? Did you get married? Have you voted before? Have you been convicted of a felony?
Check your registration: If you’re registered but haven’t voted in a few years, check your registration at SCVotes.gov. You just need to enter your name, county and birthdate.
Check your name: When you vote you will need to show a form of photo ID. If you need to change your ID, do it now! Rules have changed at the DMV due to COVD and you must now make an appointment. Allow extra time to get this done.
Check your address: If you’ve moved into the county from outside of the state or Greenville County, you must get a new registration. If you’ve moved from within the county, you can update your existing registration. Call the Election Office for more information: 864.467.7250.
Have you been convicted of a felony?: You can vote if you are not on parole or probation. Your rights are not automatically reinstated, you must register again and you may be required to show documentation that you have completed your entire sentence. If you have been convicted of a misdemeanor, you may vote so long as you aren’t in jail.
Are you 17?: You can register to vote now if you will be 18 by Election Day. You will need your Social Security number to complete your application. Ask your mom.
There are several ways to register to vote. But we should anticipate delays because of reduced staffing due to COVID. So don’t wait. Do it now.
Register online: If you are a US Citizen, and have a current Driver’s License, Election Director Conway Belangia says you can now complete your voter registration completely online. Your digital signature will be pulled in electronically from the DMV. This is the fastest way to register and will be processed with four business days). Go to VoteBlueSC to register.
Register by mail or at a registration event: You can register on a paper form, which you can download here. You will need to attach a copy of your drivers’ license, sign and date the application, and mail it back to the Greenville County Election Office at 301 University Ridge, Suite # 1900, Greenville, SC 29601.
If you have not received your voter registration card by two weeks Election Day, call 864-467-7250 to check your status.
No matter where you vote or when, you will need to have one of five forms of identification.
- Current SC Drivers’ License
- SC DMV Identification Card
- SC Voter Registration Card with photo
- Federal Military ID
- Current and valid US Passport
If you do not have one of these forms of ID with you, you will
still be permitted to cast a provisional ballot. However, that ballot will only count if your ID is verified at the County Board of Election offices prior to certification of the results. These deadlines may vary and you should contact the Board of Elections (864-467-7250) if you are unable to produce a valid form of photo ID.
Once the province of students, home-bound citizens, traveling businessmen and ex-pats, absentee voting has become more and more essential in recent years. This year, it is critical. And it is also mired in controversy and a political punching bag. Thirty-three states, including the Southern states of Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia will require absentee ballots for everyone with either no excuse or COVID as an excuse.
On Sept. 16, Gov. McMaster signed legislation that makes it possible for everyone to vote absentee in this election due to the state of emergency that exists. That opens up absentee in-person, which begins Oct. 5 at County Square and Oct. 12 at four satellite locations, to every voter in the state.
There’s been a lot of controversy about the US Postal Service and the reliability of mail-in voting. Absentee voting is crucial in this election and we should not allow the president to make us suddenly afraid to put something in the mail.
What it does mean is this: If you are capable of voting absentee, request your ballot early, complete it early, and return it early. Consider returning it directly to County Square but if you’re mailing, leave plenty of time – at least 10 days – for it to be delivered.
Masks cannot be required at polling locations, according to Election officials, because there is no state mandate. However, masking will be strongly encouraged and social distancing will be maintained at County Square and at all the satellite locations (TBA). At County Square, voters will be kept 6 feet apart and when the line reaches the lobby, voters will be moved outside.
Poll workers will be masked, have face shields. To add a layer of comfort, take your own pen to sign in, and a swab or other device to use to interact with the voting machines.
Absentee by Mail
The first step to obtaining an absentee ballot is to request an application. Do this online at VoteBlueSC.com. If you have a printer, you can request an application be emailed to you. If not, you can request the application come by mail. Allow extra time for this. If you do not have access to the Internet, call the office at 864-467-7264.
The request form must be filled out and returned to the county elections office address on the form. You can submit your application for an absentee ballot now, but ballots will not be sent out until the third week in September when all candidate information is complete.
Once your absentee ballot has been mailed to you, you cannot vote in person absentee or at the polls on Election Day.
Absentee ballots will be mailed out no later than Oct. 1. After the initial mailing, ballots will be sent within 24 to 36 hours of receiving an application from a qualified voter. Allow 7 business days to receive your ballot then call the Election Office at 864-467-7264 to inquire. Applications for absentee ballots will be accepted through Oct. 24, but don’t wait that long if you can possibly avoid it.
If you can, complete your ballot as soon as it’s received and get it in the mail. Before you return it make sure you have signed it and signed the ballot envelope. The witness signature requirement is embroiled in litigation. We advise everyone to get a witness for your ballot and remember to have them fully complete the address line with street, town, state, and zip code. If information is missing or incomplete, the Election Office will – time permitting – make an attempt to call voters and correct the problem. But that may not be possible within two weeks of the election. Anyone can be a witness – a neighbor, a relative, the guy who fixes your plumbing.
Ballots must be received at the Election Office by Election Day to be counted.
If you’re worried about the mail (although problems are not anticipated if you get your ballot in early), you can drop it off at the Election Office or one of the satellite locations set up for absentee voting in-person.
Voters who have received an absentee ballot through the mail may return their completed ballot, in the properly signed envelopes, to County Square or any one of the satellite locations during the location’s poll site hours. The voter is required to present the ballot directly to a poll worker; there will be no drop-off boxes.
If you are returning a ballot of another person (friend or family member), you must have their signed authorization – the yellow sheet enclosed with their ballot – or it will not be accepted.
Absentee in Person
South Carolina does not have Early Voting, although we have gotten in the bad habit of using the term. What we have is Absentee Voting In Person and for this election everyone can vote absentee without excuse.
Absentee Voting in Person will run from Oct. 5 through Nov. 2 at County Square. Voting will be open Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Extended hours will be on Thursday, Oct. 22 until 7 p.m., and Saturday Oct. 24 and 31 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
There will be four satellite locations opening Monday, Oct. 12 through Friday, Oct. 30. Voting will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at these locations:
- Simpsonville Activity and Senior Center, 310 W Curtis Street, Simpsonville 29681
- Pleasant Community Center, 710 S Fairfield Road, Greenville 29605
- Renfrew Baptist Church, 951 Geer Highway, Travelers Rest 29690
Tryon Recreation Center, 226 Oakland Avenue, Greer 29650
You will need to bring Voter ID and must follow social distancing requirements and should – but arent’ required to – wear a mask. You should expect lines and be prepared to stand outside at County Square.
Voting on Election Day
First, check your polling places. Every year there are changes and this year is no exception. You can download the pdf with the up-to-date polling places for the Nov. 3 election here. (Note: Depending on your settings, this pdf may download directly to your default location or open on screen.
No one can say right now what we may experience on Election Day. We don’t know if the virus will “disappear” or be raging. We don’t know if a large number of voters will be able to cast their ballot by mail or if the lines at the normal polling places will be long with uncomfortable wait times.
For those who choose to and those who have no choice only two things are certain:
It will be like no other Election Day most of us have seen and no matter what we must vote.
Election Director Conway Belangia released this statement with regard to precautions being taken to protect voters health during absentee in person voting and on Election Day.
“In all locations, absentee AND normal polling places, poll workers will be masked or behind face shields or sneeze guards. Gloves will be used to pass out ballots and the latest computer stylist, a cotton tipped swab stick that voters will use on the touch screen ballot marking devices. All locations will be very conscious about sanitizing surfaces every hour. Voters are being requested to wear mask to the polling place to cast their ballot, bring their own pen, if not, a pen will be provided and sanitized accordingly. Voters will be reminded to social distance 6 feet. Greenville County wants the voting process to be pleasant and efficient for all voters.
As always, voters are reminded that there are many offices to be voted this November 3rd. Be prepared for the election experience. Be prepared for longer than normal lines at your polling place. Please be patient with voters, poll workers, and those persons who want to suggest to you who to vote for. SCVOTES.GOV can provide a lot of information for participating in the voting process. By the way, is your address correct on the Voter Registration List, SCVOTES.GOV is a place to check.
Questions may be directed to the County Voter Registration and Election office in your county of residence.”
Voting is your right. If you are properly registered, are at the right polling place, and are in line by 7 p.m., you MUST be allowed to vote. If you are denied your opportunity to vote, contact the South Carolina Democratic Party Voter Protection Hotline at 855-785-0222. Do not leave your polling location while you call; stand your ground. If you have to leave, ask for a provisional ballot and then follow up with the Election Commission to ensure that ballot gets counted. Document anything you are told and ask for the names of those poll workers you interact with.
Need a ride to the polls? We have drivers lined up to drive you during early voting as well as on Election Day. To reserve your ride (yes, we’ll take you home too), complete this request form or call our office at 864-232-5531.
Tuesday is Fare Free Day on Greenville’s buses. Use their cool trip planner to find the route to get to your polling place.
Download this special publication – the 2020 Voters Guide – with 9-pages of information about our upcoming election and how to participate.