Registration deadline arrives as first polling place set to open
For some voters, Oct. 5 will be the new Nov. 3.
In-person absentee voting begins Monday at the Georgetown County Board of Voter Registration and Elections office, where staff are already working weekends to fill requests for mail-in absentee ballots.
“It’s going to be busy,” said Dean Smith, who chairs the county election commission.
He recalled that in 2008, the line to vote in-person absentee ballots went out the door and around the building on Hazzard Street.
“I can’t imagine there’s going to be another election like this,” Smith said.
The number of registered voters in Georgetown County increased from 43,000 last year to 45,000 this year, Smith said. To vote in the Nov. 3 election, you must register by Oct. 4.
But the number that election officials are focused on is the absentee ballots.
“The state said they think there will be a million absentee ballots in the state. They already have over 400,000 applications,” Smith said.
The deadline to apply by mail for an absentee ballot is Oct. 24.
Georgetown County has already received over 7,000 applications for absentee ballots. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, those
are available this year to all voters.
Volunteers are helping elections workers mail out the absentee ballots.
“We’d be overwhelmed if we didn’t have this volunteer help,” Smith said.
County elections officials usually open absentee ballots by hand. This year, they bought a machine to do the job, he said.
People who vote in-person absentee ballots at the elections office will use voting machines. Four will be set up, Smith said.
“The problem is social distancing,” he said.
The elections office was holding in-person training for poll managers and clerks this week. Many experienced poll workers are staying home this year because of the coronavirus. That led to problems in the June primaries, where some voters received the wrong ballots.
The county will be in better shape for the general election, Smith said.
To register for the November election, anyone who will be 18 by Nov. 3, can go online to scvotes.org by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday. A South Carolina driver’s license or DMV ID card is required.
Anyone who has a voter registration application (available at scvotes.org) can email or fax it by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday. If they mail it, it must be postmarked by Monday, because post offices are closed Sunday.
Those who want to register in person can do so at the voter registration in Georgetown by 5 p.m. on Friday.