Arthur Ravenel Bridge

New Absentee Rules for the 2020 General Election

H.5305/R.149/A.143 signed into law on September 16, 2020, made significant changes to absentee voting rules for the November 3, 2020 General Election. 

  • All voters are now qualified to vote absentee under the “State of Emergency” reason.
    • “State of Emergency” does not apply to any other election.
  • Deadline to apply for an absentee by mail ballot:
    • The voter, or an Authorized Representative acting on behalf of the voter who is unable to go to the polls due to illness or disability, may return the application in person by 5:00 p.m., Friday, October 30.
    • The deadline to return an application by mail, email or fax has already passed.

Click here to see absentee rules for all other elections. 

Witness Signature Required

  • The witness signature requirement for mail-in absentee ballots was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court on October 5.
  • Under the court's order, any ballots received by county officials through October 7 will be counted regardless of whether the return envelope has a witness signature.
  • To ensure your absentee ballot counts:
    • Sign the voter's oath on the return envelope.
    • Have a witness sign and provide address.  Any other person can be a witness.
    • 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.

How to Vote Absentee in the 2020 General Election

Beginning Monday, October 26, your options for voting absentee are:

Vote In Person

Step 1: Visit your county voter registration office or extension office.

  • County offices open Saturday, October 31, 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
  • Ends 5:00 p.m., Monday, November 2.

Step 2: Complete an application.

Step 3. Cast your ballot. 

Vote By Mail

  • Return your application for absentee ballot in person and receive a by-mail absentee ballot package to take home and complete.
  • Have an authorized representative return your application for absentee ballot and an absentee ballot will be mailed to you.
  • Applications for absentee ballots must be returned in person or by authorized representative by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, October 30.

Voting and Returning Your By-Mail Ballot

  • Vote your ballot.
  • Be sure to sign the voter's oath and have a witness sign and provide their address.  See note at the top of this page regarding witness signatures.
  • Return your ballot to your county voter registration office either by mail, personal delivery or authorized returnee (see Authorized Returnee below).
  • Your ballot must be received by 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 3.
  • If returning your ballot by mail, mail it as soon as possible.
  • At this point, it is safest to return your ballot in person. 
  • You can check the status of your absentee ballot at

Authorized Representative

  • An Authorized Representative (Representative) is a registered voter who acts on behalf of a voter who is unable to go to the polls because of either:
    • An illness or disability resulting in the voter’s confinement in a hospital, sanatorium, nursing home, or place of residence; or
    • handicap rendering the voter unable to vote at his polling place due to existing architectural barriers that deny him physical access to the polling places, voting booth, or voting apparatus or machinery.
  • Candidates and paid campaign workers may not serve as a Representative except for immediate family members.
  • A Representative must complete the Authorized Representative form.
  • A Representative may:
    • Request a voter’s application.
    • Return the application through 5:00 p.m., Friday, October 30.
  • The ballot will be mailed to the voter.

Authorized Returnee

  • An Authorized Returnee (Returnee) is a person who can be authorized by any voter to return the voter's absentee by mail ballot. 
  • Candidates and paid campaign workers may not serve as a Returnee except for immediate family members. 
  • The voter and Returnee must complete the Authorization to Return Absentee Ballot form. The Returnee must present the form when returning the ballot.