EDITOR'S NOTE: This page is part of a comprehensive guide to state voting rights across the U.S. and in Puerto Rico.
As in other Southern states with a history of racial discrimination, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 required South Carolina to get approval from the U.S. Department of Justice to make changes to voting laws. When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down that preclearance requirement in 2013, the state enacted a photo-ID law. But Republicans and Democrats have applauded a new law signed this year allowing South Carolina voters to cast ballots without excuses during a two-week early voting period.
According to the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division, there have been seven reports of suspected election fraud since June 1, 2022.
Source: S.C. Election Commission
Those convicted of felonies in South Carolina cannot vote until their full sentence is completed, including probation or parole.
Source: South Carolina ACLU
South Carolina requires voters to bring a photo ID. Acceptable forms of ID include a South Carolina driver's license, Department of Motor Vehicles ID card, federal military ID, U.S. passport or South Carolina voter registration card with photo. The law also allows voters to get a photo ID at their local election office and to vote a provisional ballot if they have a reasonable excuse for why they could not get such an ID.
Source: South Carolina ACLU
On May 13, Gov. Henry McMaster signed into law legislation that establishes early voting and makes significant changes to the absentee voting process.
Any voter can visit an early voting center in their county and vote during a two-week period before election day, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays.
South Carolina treats absentee and mail-in voting the same. Valid excuses for voting absentee include employment obligations that prevent voting during the early voting period and on election day; attending to a sick or physically disabled person; being confined to a jail or pretrial facility pending disposition of arrest or trial; being absent from their county of residence; having physical disabilities; being 65 or older; being a member of the armed forces or merchant Marines, their spouses and dependents living with them; and being admitted to a hospital as an emergency patient. A voter must request an application from their local election office by phone, mail or in person. The county elections office must receive the returned ballot by mail or in-person by 5 p.m. on the 11th day prior to the election. Voters must present photo ID when returning the ballot return envelope. Acceptable IDs include a driver's license with photo or another state-issued ID with a photo.
South Carolina's redistricting process is controlled by the state Legislature, which currently has a Republican majority. The state's 2022 Congressional map redrew one district to further strengthen a Republican-held seat. A group of voters sued over the state's new legislative House map, alleging racial gerrymandering aimed to dilute the voting power of Black South Carolinians. The state agreed to redraw 29 state House district to settle the lawsuit.
In South Carolina, electioneering is banned within 500 feet of any entrance used by voters. Candidates may campaign verbally within 500 feet of the entrance to the polling place if it does not interfere with the election process. Candidates may not wear a candidate badge inside the polling place, actively campaign inside the polling place, intimidate voters or interfere with the election. Voters cannot use cell phones, tablets or cameras in the voting area. It is illegal for husbands and wives who are capable of voting separately to enter the voting booth together. Minor children of a voter may accompany the voter in the voting booth while casting their ballot.