Election FAQ

Just to show that I can, too, provide practical news you can use (at least theoretically) here on the blog, here’s a press release I just got from the S.C. Election Commission. Here it is in Word form, and here’s the plain text:

Frequently Asked Election Day Questions – 2008

COLUMBIA, S.C. – (November 3, 2008) — More than 300,000 South Carolinians have cast absentee ballots in the 2008 General Election, nearly double the number of absentee ballots cast in 2004.  On Tuesday, the other 2.2 Million registered voters who did not vote absentee are eligible to cast their ballots at polling places throughout the state.  With that in mind, the South Carolina State Election Commission wants to provide voters with answers to some commonly asked questions in an effort to make the process go as smoothly as possible.
Q. Where do I vote?
A. You must vote at the polling place in the precinct where you reside.  Your precinct is the geographical area you live in; your polling place is the location where you vote.  Your precinct and polling place are listed on your voter registration card.  However, polling places change from time to time. 
To find your polling place:

  • If you know the name of your precinct, go to www.scVOTES.org and use the online polling place locator.  (Your precinct is listed on your voter registration card.)
  • If you do not know the name of your precinct, go to www.scVOTES.org and use the “Check Your Voter Registration” tool found under “Voters” in the menu.
  • Voters may also call their county voter registration office to find their polling place.

Q. What do I need to take with me to the polls to vote?
A. You will be required to show any one of three forms of identification in order to vote:  voter registration card, driver’s license, or a picture ID issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles.
If you registered to vote by mail, are voting for the first time since that registration, and did not submit proof of identification along with your application; you will be required to show ID at the polls in addition to your voter registration card.  Acceptable forms of this additional ID include:  a valid photo ID (student ID, military ID, etc.) –or– a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or other government document that shows the voter’s name and address in the county.
Q. I’ve lost my voter registration card.  Can I still vote?
A. Voters can also use their driver’s license or a DMV issued photo ID.  Voters may also go to the voter registration office on Election Day and get a duplicate card.
Q. I’ve moved since the last election and haven’t updated by voter registration card.  Can I still vote?
A. If the voter…

1. …has moved to another residence within his precinct, he can vote a regular ballot but must fill out a change of address form.
2. …has moved to a different precinct within his county, he is eligible to vote a fail-safe ballot.
3. …moved to another residence in another county on or after October 5th, he is eligible to vote a fail-safe ballot.
4. …moved to another residence in another county prior to before October 5th, he is not eligible to vote.

    Two Options for Voting Fail-safe:

1. The voter may vote at the polling place in his previous precinct using a fail-safe 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:  No campaign literature or political posters are allowed.  Candidates are allowed to wear a badge containing the candidate’s name and office sought.  Candidates must remove their badge upon entering a polling place.  Candidates and campaign staff may campaign.
  • 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?
A. Yes.
Q. When/where will results be reported?
A. Unofficial results will be reported at www.scVOTES.org as we receive them from each county.
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. When is a recount necessary?
A. A mandatory recount is held when the difference between any candidate declared the winner and any other candidate not declared the winner is 1% or less of the total votes cast for all candidates in that particular race. (7-17-280)
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 SC 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, and 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, it should be reported immediately to the precinct’s poll clerk.

17 thoughts on “Election FAQ

  1. bill

    Can I camp out at the schoolhouse?
    If Joe Wilson approaches me,should I shake his hand or act aloof?
    Can voters bring coolers/beer/hooch?

  2. Sometimes Reader

    I will invoke my many-tiered disgruntlements with Lexington County…until they reach the level of Donny Myers’ and his henchmen. Frontliners usually disband in frustration at that point…

  3. Norm Ivey

    He’ll be fine. I suspect he’s resilient. He had to survive the Clinton administration, didn’t he? He’ll pull through the Obama era as well.

  4. Ozzie

    One FAQ you forgot. Are you gonna be on ETV in the election studio, Brad? Because otherwise I’ll be tempted to watch NBC.

  5. Brad Warthen

    Go for it. I’ll be off the air Tuesday night. Not that I have anything against doing TV; it’s just that nobody asked me this time. (Sniffle!)
    I tentatively plan to be blogging, though…

  6. Karen McLeod

    Drove by the polling place this AM. Did not know that there were that many voters in my precinct, and I’ve voted there for over 30 years. I shall return, bringing a chair and reading material. I hope someone remembers the hooch.

  7. Ralph Hightower

    To find out how many voters are registered in your precint, you can visit http://www.scvotes.org/ and click on “Check Your Voter Registration”, type in your personal information.
    Or click on http://www.scvotes.org/statistics/by_counties_and_precincts and select the county for all precints in the county and select “None” or “Totals” for the Demographics.
    I waited in line for 45 minutes to vote. But we got in line at 6:15 AM. By 7 AM, there were two long lines (Last names: A through K, and L through Z).

  8. bud

    I waited 2 hours and 20 minutes to vote in Lexington precinct 4. Got in line at 7:30 and finally voted at 9:50. It was like Disney World. Once inside you had to get in another line to show proof of residency. Then a third line to get your pink card to vote in your particular jurisdiction. Then finally a loooooong fourth line to actually reach the 8 voting machines available. That’s right folks, 8 voting machines was all they had. Seem like with 21st century technology we could do a bit better than this. At the very least we could have 20+ voting machines. There was plenty of room.

  9. James D McCallister

    70 minutes for me. Got there at 8am, back in the car at 9:10. Big crowd in my precinct, biggest I’ve seen in a few cycles.

  10. Ozzie

    Voted in Lexington 1 (Saxe Gotha Pres. church) We were really surprised how few voting machines there were. Also interesting that the majority of voters’ last names seem to fall in the A-D section, and it took an awful long time for them to look up people’s names and verify. Meanwhile, the rest of the alphabet was streaming in behind us and moving ahead in line, so that was frustrating. The poll workers did do their best to get the line in out of the rain, which was nice, but it moved very slowly.
    I would think that there would be ways to streamline all this, but the main thing would be to have at least double the number of voting machines (I think we only had 8 as well).
    A two and half hour adventure, altogether.
    Is it just me, or does it not look like a lot higher voter turnout this time? I don’t remember standing in line at all in ’04.

  11. Norm Ivey

    We waited about 2 hours in North Springs 2, but those coming in now will have a MUCH shorter wait. Everybody was in a great mood, and everything seemed to be running smoothly from what I could see. They were using about 10 machines, and one was down for a while.
    Idea for streamlining: We had the same issue as Ozzie. They had divided the alphabet by the number of letters (A-I, J-R, S-Z). It would be better to divide the alphabet by the number of registrations so each line would have an equal number of citizens, not an equal number of letters.


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