South Carolina Absentee Ballot Guide

Last updated March 22, 2016
Military and Overseas voters should visit the Overseas Vote Foundation. Long Distance Voter's information should only be used by voters with US mailing addresses.

Important Deadlines

  • Voter Registration Form: Postmarked 30 days before the election
  • Absentee Ballot Application: Received by 5:00 p.m on the 4th day before the election, whether delivering in person, by mail, fax or email
  • Voted Absente Ballot: Received by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day, either in person or by mail

How to vote by absentee ballot

Register to vote

Recommended: Use our Voter Registration Tool. Enter your information, print and sign the completed form, and mail it to the address printed on the form.  

You can also use the South Carolina online voter registration tool. To use this tool, you must have a South Carolina DMV-issued ID card.

There is no length of residency requirement in South Carolina in order to register to vote. You can register at any time.  Students may register to vote where they attend college only if they establish that they are a resident of that community. In establishing such residence, students must demonstrate that they have a present intention to remain in the community.

Verify your voter registration

It's best to verify your voter registration before applying for your absentee ballot.  If there's a problem with your registration, register again before proceeding.

NOTE: Most people receive their voter registration cards in the mail 2-3 weeks after registering to vote. Don't worry if you lost your voter registration card. You don't actually need it to vote.

Make sure you're eligible to vote by absentee ballot

You may vote by absentee ballot if:  

  • you are a student away at college (or a spouse or dependent residing with the student)
  • you are a member of the Armed Forces, Merchant Marines, Red Cross, USO, government employees (or a spouse or dependent residing with such a person) 
  • you live overseas 
  • your job prevents you from voting in person 
  • you are physically disabled 
  • you are away on vacation 
  • you are 65 or older
  • you have been admitted to the hospital as an emergency patient on day of election or at least four days prior to the election
  • there has been a death or funeral in your family within 3 days before the election
  • you are confined to a jail or pre-trial facility pending disposition of arrest or trial
  • you are attending sick or physically disabled persons
  • you are on jury duty in state or federal court on election day 
  • you are a certified poll watcher, poll manager, or county election official and you will be working on election day

Apply for your absentee ballot

You can begin applying on January 1 for any election held during that same year.  South Carolina prepares a personalized absentee ballot application for each voter who wishes to vote absentee.

There are two ways to get the application, both of which are burdensome:

  1. You can request your ballot online using the South Carolina absentee ballot request system. NOTE: you must either have a printer handy when you fill it out, or save the application to print later. You only get one chance per election cycle to use the online system to request an absentee ballot. You then must print, complete, sign, and mail the application back to your county voter registration office.
  2. Alternatively, you can contact your county voter registration office and ask them to mail you an absentee ballot application. (NOTE: the first request you need to make is for the absentee ballot application, not for the absentee ballot itself.) 

If you're unable to request an application for yourself, you can ask a member of your immediate family to request it for you.  If you are ill or physically disabled, you may designate an authorized representative to request it for you.  Candidates and paid campaign workers may not serve as authorized representatives, except for a member of their own family.

Your county voter registrar will verify your voter registration and then mail you a personalized  absentee ballot application.  Complete the application and return it to the address indicated on the form.  Once your application is processed, they'll mail you the absentee ballot.

Your absentee ballot application must be received no later than 5pm four days before the election.  We recommend requesting and submitting your application well before the deadline.  

Check the status of your absentee ballot application

You can check the status of your absentee ballot application online at the South Carolina Election Commission's website.

Receive, complete and return your absentee ballot

Your completed absentee ballot must be placed in the "Ballots Herein" envelope provided with your absentee ballot. The "Ballots Herein" envelope will then be placed inside a "Return Envelope" which you must sign and have witnessed before returning.

Ballots must be returned to your county voter registration office by 7:00 p.m. on election day.  Absentee ballots may be returned either by mail or in person.  An absentee ballot may also be returned by an authorized representative by completing "Authorization to Return Absentee Ballot Form." Contact your county voter registration office to if you need this form.

Candidates and paid campaign workers may not serve as authorized representatives, except for members of their own family.  

Additional Information 

State Election Website:
Local Election Officials: Your Local Election Official is the best person to contact if you have questions.  They'll be able to provide up-to-date information on rules and deadlines. 


Every person who shares helps us reach three more voters.