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Absentee voting underway in Kershaw County

Posted: October 12, 2012 5:28 p.m.
Updated: October 15, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Kershaw County voters are getting a head start on voting for the general election with hundreds casting their ballots during the first three weeks of absentee voting.

Kershaw County Voter Registration Office Director Rosalind Watkins said about 1,480 people have signed up so far for absentee voting since it began Sept. 26.

“It’s picking up,” Watkins said, referring to the number of people who have stopped by the office or mailed in absentee ballots. “We’ve been using three machines, but we then had to open up a fourth machine. As more people are aware that we’re open for absentee voting, more people come in.”

She noted that she senses a high level of “excitement” about voting this election cycle.

“We’ll just have to wait and see on Election Day, but you hear a lot of excitement about ‘we’ve got to vote’ and ‘we can’t miss this election,’” she said.

Absentee voters this year will select their candidate of choice for president, U.S. Congress, S.C. Senate and House, and Kershaw County Council. Local races for Camden City Council, Lugoff Fire District, and Kershaw County Soil and Water Conservation District will also be on ballots depending on a voter’s residency.

Absentee voting is open to all those who, depending on their individual circumstances, will not be able to visit their polling precinct on Election Day. Voting via absentee ballot may be completed in person up until 5 p.m. the day before the election or conducted by mail. No appointment is necessary to vote absentee in person. The general election will take place Nov. 6.  

If voting absentee in person at the voter registration office, a voter must have their registration card, driver’s license, or a state-issued photo ID card.

According to Watkins, absentee voting differs from early voting in that absentee voting is open only to those who meet certain qualifications for why they will not be present at their precinct on Election Day.

“You must meet one of the many reasons to vote absentee,” she said. “Typically, absentee voters are older or college students. Usually, we also receive a lot of requests for people working long hours … hospital employees with 12-hour shifts or truck drivers for instance.”

South Carolina does not offer in-person early voting, which would permit any registered voter to cast a ballot prior to the election without excuse or justification. For voting absentee, a person must fill out an application attesting to their reason for voting in that manner.

Individuals qualified to vote absentee include:

• persons who, for reasons of employment, will not be able to vote on Election Day;

• persons who will be on vacation outside their county of residence on Election Day;

• members of the Uniformed Services and their spouses and dependents residing with them;

• persons ages 65 or older;

• physically disabled persons;

• persons serving as a juror in state or federal court on Election Day;

• persons admitted to the hospital as emergency patients on Election Day or within a four-day period before the election;

• persons with a death or funeral in the family within three days before the election;

• persons confined to a jail or pre-trial facility pending disposition of arrest or trial;

• persons attending sick or physically disabled persons; and

• certified poll watchers, poll managers and county election officials working on Election Day.

Absentee votes are accepted in person at the Kershaw County Voter Registration Office, located at 609 Lafayette Ave. in Camden. Voters can also call the office to have an absentee ballot application mailed to their residence or print out an application from www.scvotes.org.  The voter registration office can be reached at 424-4016.

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