News & Press Releases

More than One Million South Carolinians Cast Absentee Ballots

COLUMBIA, SC (October 28, 2020) – More than one million South Carolinians have already cast their ballots in the 2020 General Election, doubling the record for absentee voting set in the 2016 General Election.  Based on current trends, 1.3 million voters could vote before election day, which could be approximately half of the total turnout in the election.

The highest turnout in a presidential election in the past 25 years was 76% in 2008.  If the 2020 General Election matches that turnout, approximately 2.7 million of the 3.5 million registered voters in South Carolina will vote.

2020 General Election Absentee Statistics as of 12:00 p.m., October 28

Total Issued: 1,105,000,000 (Record - 517,000 - 2016 GE)

Total Returned: 1,013,000 (Record - 503,000 - 2016 GE)

     In Person Issued/Returned:  642,000 (Record - 370,000 - 2016 GE)

     By Mail Issued:  464,000 (Record - 147,000 - 2016 GE)

     By Mail Returned:  371,000 (Record - 133,000 - 2016 GE)

NOTE: By Mail includes a small number of military and overseas ballots issued and returned electronically.

Summary and details posted twice daily here:

What Voters Need to Know

In Person Absentee

Absentee by Mail

If you have an absentee by mail ballot:

  • Sign the voter’s oath on the return envelope.
  • Have a witness sign and provide their address.  A witness can be any other person.
  • Return the ballot to your county voter registration office or extension office as soon as possible and before 7:00 p.m., November 3.
  • At this point, it is best to return your ballot in person or have another person return your ballot for you by completing the authorized returnee form.
  • You can NOT return your absentee ballot to your polling place.
  • You can check the status of your absentee ballot at 

Election Day Voting

  • Election officials have taken steps to protect the health of voters and poll managers:
    • Poll managers have received special COVID-19 training and supplies to apply social distancing and clean common surfaces in the polling place. 
    • Managers are equipped with masks, face shields and gloves.
    • Sneeze guards will be placed at check-in stations.
    • Hand sanitizer will be available for voters and poll managers.
  • Check your polling place at before going to the polls. 
  • Bring your Photo ID (or voter registration card if you do not have a Photo ID).
  • Voters are strongly encouraged to wear a face mask.
  • Practice social distancing by spacing yourself at least six feet apart from others.
  • Show your Photo ID by holding it up for poll managers instead of handing it to them.
  • You will be provided a cotton swab for making selections on the touchscreen.
  • Be patient and understanding with poll managers on election day.  They are being asked to do a lot to facilitate voting under the current conditions.  We are all in this together.

Election Results Reporting

  • Unofficial results will be reported on election night at
  • No election results can be produced or reported before 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, November 3.
  • County election officials will report results on a regular basis, as they become available, until fully reported.

By-Mail Absentee Ballots

  • County election officials will start opening the exterior return envelopes as early as 7:00 a.m., Sunday, November 1.
  • County election officials will start opening the interior ballot secrecy envelopes as early as 7:00 a.m., Tuesday, November 3, removing the ballots, and processing the ballot through the ballot scanners.
  • Due to the high volume of by-mail ballots, some counties will likely not be finished with this process on election night. 

In-Person Absentee Ballots

  • During in-person absentee voting, voters cast their ballots by placing them in a scanner which tabulates the votes on the ballot.  Because these ballots are already scanned, we expect county election officials to report these results first.

Election Day Ballots

  • Voters cast their ballots by placing them in a scanner which tabulates the votes on the ballot.
  • After the last voter has voted, poll managers will complete the process of closing the polling place. Because voters who are in line at 7:00 p.m. must be allowed to vote, polling place closing times will vary. 
  • Poll managers will publicly post precinct results at the polling place before delivering results to the county election office.  Travel times from polling places will vary depending on the distance to county offices.
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