COLUMBIA, S.C. — Midlands residents might be getting voter registration cards in the mail. According to Chris Whitmire with the South Carolina Election Commission, whether you get one depends on where you live.
"It’s a county-by-county decision. It’s not required by law and it would be a factor of maybe how much change has occurred in this county. Do we have the budget to send cards to every voter in the county?" he explained. "Some counties may choose to send cards to every voter in the county, some may choose to only send cards to voters whose districts have changed."
Whitmire says residents used to vote at polls using that card. Now, he explains, it serves as "essentially a notification" of your registration and includes your precinct and your polling place on it.
Irmo resident Michelle Carpenter received her new card on Sunday. When she looked at it, she noticed her polling location had changed.
"My thing is, right before a big election, why are they picking new places for us to go vote?" she wondered. "We’re in the end of August. The election is in November. Why are they changing it?"
Voters could be seeing two changes. First, your polling location may have changed as Carpenter's did. Second, you might now be voting for different offices because of redistricting.
Patricia Jefferson is the registration director for Sumter County. She showed me a sample registration card.
"Of course, we want every citizen that’s affected by the change to receive a voter registration card. It will have your new congressional district, Senate district, House districts, county council districts, school district," she said. "And we ask that you please keep this once you get this voter registration card."
If there are any changes to the information you see on the card, Jefferson says you should alert your county of that change. That’s important for anyone, no matter where you live, says Lenice Shoemaker with Lexington County elections.
"Definitely if you have moved even within Lexington County, I want you to reach out to me and we will send you a new card at no expense to you," Shoemaker said.
To better understand how elections and voting works, Carpenter volunteered to work the polls earlier this summer.
"I learned a lot that I didn't know," she explained.
In particular, Carpenter saw how important it was for residents to be informed about which poll they should use. One night in particular, she told me two people came to the door at 7:02 p.m. - two minutes after voting had ended.
She asked if they had accidentally gone to the wrong polling location without realizing it had changed.
"They both said 'Yes.' And I said, 'You know, I apologize. I’m so sorry," she explained they weren't able to cast their ballot. "But everybody’s vote counts and it’s not fair that those two people didn’t get to vote."
Carpenter says if voters don't know where to find out any updates to their registration, the same situation might happen.
"There's gonna be some people that don’t…they’ve moved, they missed the card, they don’t have social media," she said.
To make sure that doesn't happen, if you haven’t gotten a card in the mail, you can check your registration information on SCVotes.gov to confirm your information. On that website, you can check your registration and see a sample ballot to know what office you can vote for in November.
Here's what each county told News 19 about voter registration ballots:
- Calhoun County: Residents in three areas that were redistricted will receive cards that are going out now, according to Shayla Jenkins
- Lexington County: Residents will not be receiving cards unless they have requested one. This is because voting precincts were not changed in the county. If a voter physically moved out of the precinct, married, or otherwise changed name/address, they would need to request a new card
- Kershaw County: There have been no precinct moves, so the county will not send out new cards, according to John Caughman
- Newberry County: Residents will not be receiving new cards, according to Initra Williams
- Fairfield County: Only residents who have been redistricted were sent new cards before the June primary, according to Debby Stidham
- Orangeburg County: Registered voters will be receiving new cards, according to Aurora Small. They should be mailed out sometime in September
- Richland County: New cards have already been sent out to residents
- Sumter County: New cards will be sent out to all residents on Sept. 1