If you plan on voting in a South Carolina Primary Tuesday, there are a few things you should know before you get to your polling place.
There are two primaries Tuesday, one to select Republican candidates, one to select Democratic candidates. No matter which party you identify with, since South Carolina has open primaries, you can vote in either primary.
“Voters have to make a choice,” said Chris Whitmire, South Carolina Election Commission spokesperson. “The poll managers will ask the voter, ‘In which party’s primary do you wish to vote today?’ And the voter needs to be prepared to answer that question. They’re not asking whether you’re a Democrat or Republican. They simply need to know which ballot you want.”
Whitmire recommends before going to your polling station, check the Election Commission website to make sure it hasn’t changed.
“I encourage every voter to go to scvotes.org and click ‘Find my Polling Place.’ Even if you voted at the same place for a long time, just to make sure that there hasn’t been a change you’re unaware of, just to go and look before going. It will tell you the place, the address and show you a map from your house to your polling place,” Whitmire said.
And to speed up the voting process, “We encourage every voter to go and check out their sample ballot before election day,” he said.
“It shows you the specific offices and candidates that will be on your ballot and you can decide how you might vote when you get to the voting booth so you’re not seeing this ballot for the first time. You have an idea of how you want to vote,” Whitmire said.
If you requested an absentee ballot by mail and you have not returned it, you cannot submit it via mail Tuesday.
“You need to vote it and return that ballot to your county voter registration office by 7 p.m. on election day or it’s not going to count,” he said. “You can’t return that ballot to your polling place, either.”
If there is a runoff and you want to vote, you have to vote in the runoff for the same party that you voted in the primary.
Whitmire said 58,222 absentee ballots were issued for the primaries. As of Monday afternoon, 51,390 absentee ballots had been returned.
“Absentee voting has been on an upward trajectory recently,” Whitmire said.
The Election Commission expects a turnout Tuesday somewhere between 15 and 25 percent of registered voters. Whitmire said in the last three state primaries, the turnout was about 15 percent.
“Of all our statewide elections, statewide primaries have the lowest turnout,” he said.
Whitmire said voter turnout is about 50 percent for a gubernatorial election and about 75 percent for a presidential election.
Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. Voters should take photo identification to their polling station.