Absentee Voting

Absentee voting allows qualified voters to cast a ballot by mail prior to Election Day. In-Person Absentee Voting is no longer authorized by law.

On May 13, 2022, Governor McMaster signed into law legislation passed by the General Assembly that establishes early voting and makes significant changes to the absentee voting process.  The information on this page has been updated to reflect these changes.

Absentee voting allows qualified voters to cast a ballot by mail prior to Election Day. In-Person Absentee Voting is no longer authorized by law.


Who can vote absentee?
  • Persons with employment obligations which prevent them from voting during early voting hours for the duration of the early voting period, and during the hours the polls are open on election day.
  • Persons attending a sick or physically disabled person which prevents them from voting during early voting hours for the duration of the early voting period, and during the hours the polls are open on election day.
  • Persons confined to a jail or pretrial facility pending disposition of arrest or trial which prevents them from voting during early voting hours for the duration of the early voting period, and during the hours the polls are open on election day.
  • Persons who will be absent from their county of residence during early voting hours for the duration of the early voting period, and during the hours the polls are open on election day.
  • Persons with physical disabilities.
  • Persons sixty-five years of age or older.
  • Members of the Armed Forces and Merchant Marines of the United States, their spouses, and dependents residing with them (Learn more about procedures related to Military and Overseas Citizens).
  • Persons admitted to a hospital as an emergency patient on the day of the election or within a four-day period before the election (see additional details below).
How can I vote absentee?

Step 1:  Get your application

  • You can submit your request for an application as early as January 1 of the election year.
  • Call, visit or send your request by U.S. mail to your county voter registration office.
  • You must provide your name, date of birth and last four digits of your Social Security Number.
  • You will be mailed an application.
  • Find more information below on how Immediate Family Members and Authorized Representatives can request a voter’s application.

Step 2:  Complete, sign and return the application

  • Return the application by U.S. mail or personal delivery to your county voter registration office as soon as possible.
  • The deadline to return your application is 5:00 p.m. on the 11th day prior to the election.
  • Find more information below on how Immediate Family Members and Authorized Representatives can return a voter’s application.

Step 3:  Receive your absentee ballot in the mail

  • Voters who have applied early will be mailed their absentee ballot approximately 30 days before the election.

Step 4:  Vote and return the ballot 

  • Return your ballot to your county voter registration office or an early voting center either by mail or personal delivery.
  • Must present Photo ID when returning the ballot return envelope.
  • Acceptable Photo IDs:
    • Driver’s license issued by a state within the United States.
    • Another form of identification containing a photograph issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles or its equivalent by a state within the United States.
    • Passport.
    • Military identification containing a photograph issued by the federal government.
    • South Carolina voter registration card containing a photograph of the voter.
  • Place the ballot in the “ballot here-in” envelope and place the “ballot here-in” envelope in the return envelope.
  • Be sure to sign the voter’s oath and have your signature witnessed.  Anyone age 18 or older can witness your signature.  A notary is not necessary.
  • Ballots must be received by the county voter registration office by 7:00 p.m. on election day.
  • Ballots returned by mail should be mailed no later than one week prior to election day to help ensure timely delivery.
Can I include another voter’s application when I return mine by mail?
  • No, you can only return your own application by mail. Any application for another that is included with your application will not be accepted. See “How to return an application for another person” below for instructions on returning another voter’s application.
Can applications be requested and returned online or by email?
  • No, State law no longer allows for delivery of absentee applications electronically or by fax. See “How can I vote absentee” above.
Who can make an absentee request or return a ballot for another person?

An Immediate Family Member

  • Includes Spouse, Parent, Child, Brother, Sister, Grandparent, Grandchild, Mother-in-law, Father-in-law, Brother-in-law, Sister-in-law, Son-in-law, Daughter-in-law.

An Authorized Representative

  • Must be a registered voter.
  • Must have permission to act on behalf of a voter who is unable to go to the polls because of illness or disability resulting in his confinement in a hospital, sanatorium, nursing home, or place of residence, or is unable because of a physical handicap to go to his polling place or because of a handicap is unable to vote at his polling place due to existing architectural barriers that deny him physical access to the polling place, voting booth, or voting apparatus or machinery.
  • Must sign an oath that they meet the requirements of being an Authorized Representative by completing the Authorized Representative form.
  • A candidate, a member of a candidate’s campaign staff, or a campaign volunteer may not serve as an Authorized Representative unless the person is a member of the voter’s immediate family.
How to request an application for another person

Immediate Family Members

  • See “Who can help me request…” for a definition of immediate family member.
  • May request the voter’s application by calling or visiting your county voter registration office or sending the request via the U.S. Postal Service to your county voter registration office.
  • Must provide the voter’s name, date of birth and last four digits of voter’s Social Security Number.
  • Must provide the requestor’s name, address, date of birth and relation to the voter.

Authorized Representatives

  • Must meet the qualifications under “Who can help me request…” above and provide a completed Authorized Representative form.
  • Must request application in person or by mail (may not request by phone).

All requestors are limited to five requests in addition to their own per election.

How to return an application for another person

Immediate Family Member and Authorized Representatives

  • See definition of Immediate Family Member and Authorized Representative under “Who can request…” above.
  • Must return the voter’s application to the voter’s county voter registration office in person (mailing NOT allowed).
How to return an absentee ballot for another voter

Immediate Family Member and Authorized Representatives

  • See definition of Immediate Family Member and Authorized Representative under “Who can request…” above.
  • Voter and person returning the ballot must complete and sign the Authorized Returnee form.
  • Must return the ballot return envelope in person at the voter’s county voter registration office or an early voting center in the voter’s county of residence (mailing is NOT allowed).
  • Must present the Authorized Returnee form and Photo ID when returning the ballot return envelope.
  • Acceptable Photo IDs:
    • Driver’s license issued by a state within the United States
    • Another form of identification containing a photograph issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles or its equivalent by a state within the United States
    • Passport
    • Military identification containing a photograph issued by the federal government
    • South Carolina voter registration card containing a photograph of the voter.
  • Returnees are limited to five returns in addition to their own per election.
    • Returning more than five ballots for other voters is now a felony crime punishable by up to a $1,000 fine or five years in prison, or both.
Voters admitted to the hospital as emergency patients
  • A voter admitted to the hospital as an emergency patient on the day of the election or within four days of the election can have an immediate family member apply for and deliver a ballot to them.