YORK COUNTY, S.C. — South Carolinians voting absentee by-mail must now have a witness signature on the ballot return envelopes after the United States Supreme Court reinstated the requirement late Monday.
Under the court’s order, ballots already received by county officials and those received through October 7 will be counted regardless of whether the return envelope bears a witness signature.
Absentee voting started Monday in York County with people lining up to cast their ballots.
Alan Helms, deputy director with the York County Board of Voter Registration & Elections, said more than 600 people showed up to vote absentee in-person Monday.
“They were very energetic,” Helms said. “They were ready to vote.”
The Supreme Court’s order won’t have any impact on the people who have voted absentee in-person, Helms said.
Just under 20,000 absentee by-mail ballots in York County were sent out Monday of more than 25,000 requests.
“Voters can expect those later this week, and when you start to return those, just go ahead and get someone to witness it as well when you sign your envelope,” Helms added.
Even before the Supreme Court’s decision, Helms said York County election officials were encouraging voters to go ahead and get a witness signature.
“Our instructions to the voter in their ballot packet include there was a court order or ruling that stated that they didn’t have to have it,” Helms said. "But we’re encouraging those voters to get a witness signature just in case something changes in the future.”
Helms said he doesn’t anticipate many — if any — ballots will be returned without a witness signature.
The absentee by-mail ballots can be returned via the mail or in-person, Helms said, but they must be in by 7 p.m. on Election Day because postmarks are not honored for this type of ballot.
According to the South Carolina State Election Commission, to ensure your absentee by-mail ballot counts, voters must:
- Sign the voter’s oath on the ballot return envelope
- Have a witness sign and provide an address.
- Return your ballot before 7:00 p.m. on November 3.
Ballots can be returned in person or by mail. You should mail your ballot as soon as possible and at least a week before election day to allow time for delivery before the deadline.