In the last few days, the General Assembly of South Carolina and the Governor has changed certain laws that deal with absentee voting. The State Senate took action on September 8th and the State House of Representative ratified that action on September 15th. The Governor signed that action into law on September 16th.
Conway Belangia, Director Greenville Co. Voter Registration and Elections
Due to the COVID-19 issues of the State, changes have been made to allow all voters in the State to be able to vote an absentee ballot, if they wish. Absentee ballots must be requested on a signed application and then a ballot will be mailed, no later than October 1st. This is NOT a deadline, but the first mailing for Greenville County. Applications will be accepted through October 24th for ballots to be mailed. After the initial mailing, absentee ballots will be mailed within 24 to 36 hours on the receiving a signed request from a voter. It is recommended that if a voter wants to vote an absentee ballot by mail, start early. Do NOT wait until the last minute to attempt to use this method of casting a ballot.
As Greenville County has always provided, ‘in person’ absentee voting will be available. That is where a voter visits an absentee site and completes the entire process at one time. Signing the application and voting their ballot before leaving the premises. For Greenville County voters, County Square will be the main site for this voting process. As determined by the actions of the General Assembly, this process will begin on October 5th, 8:30 am. Absentee voting hours at County Square will be Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. County Square ‘in person’ absentee voting will also have same additional hours on Thursday, October 22nd when hours are extended on that day till 7 pm. Also, additional hours will be offered on Saturdays, October 24th and 31st, opening at 9 am and closing at 1 pm on those special days.
As an added opportunity, Greenville County will have four satellite absentee voting locations that will have different hours. These four sites will be open from 9 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday, beginning Monday, October 12th and continuing through Friday, October 30th. One site will be the Activities and Senior Center on Curtis Street in Simpsonville. A second site will be the Mt. Pleasant Community Center just off of White Horse Road between Hwy. 25 and I-85. A third site will be in Traveler Rest, at the Renfrew Baptist Church on Geer Hwy. The fourth site is still being worked out in Greer. As an added item at these satellite locations, voters who have received and absentee ballot through the mail may return their voted ballot, in the properly signed envelopes, to any of the satellite locations, instead of using the US Postal Service. While we have full confidence in the USPS, voters have indicated a desire to not use USPS for return of their voted ballots.
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 conscience to sanitize surfaces every hour. Voters are being requested to wear mask to the polling place to cast their ballot, bring their own pen, if not one will be provided and sanitized accordingly, and voters will be reminded to social distance 6 feet. Greenville County wants the voting process to be pleasant and efficient for 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.■