SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Due to the pandemic, a record number of voters will be able to cast their ballot absentee.
But as Election Day nears, questions linger about the logistics and security of voting in 2020.
Election officials around the nation and closer to home say it’s safe to vote by drop box or by mail, so long as voters don’t wait too long.
WSAV is On Your Side with a checklist to ensure residents in the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry can make their vote count.
Check your voting status
The voter registration deadlines have passed in Georgia and South Carolina but the following pages offer key info for voters:
Voters can view their polling place, check their absentee ballot status and more.
Know the rules in your state about voter ID
Two-thirds of states expect voters to provide identification to let you vote at the polls. Individual state laws determine whether voters need identification to cast a ballot.
About half of all states with voter ID laws accept only photo IDs, which could include a driver’s license, state-issued ID card, military ID card or passport.
Other states may accept non-photo IDs, which could include birth certificates, Social Security cards, bank statements or utility bills.
In general, voter ID requirements apply to in-person voting, not to mailed or absentee ballots.
First-time voters who didn’t register in person or who haven’t shown ID before must do so, according to federal law.
Decide how you want to vote
In-person voting and early voting are still options. Cleaning supplies and PPE will be distributed to poll workers by the state.
Though wearing a mask is encouraged by health officials and state leaders, masks are not required at the polls in Georgia or South Carolina.
Voters in the Peach and Palmetto states are qualified to vote absentee for the general election due to emergency orders related to COVID-19.
Request an absentee ballot
If choosing to vote absentee, officials say voters should make the request as far in advance of the election as possible.
South Carolina voters can request an absentee online here. Applications must be received by the voter registration office by Saturday, Oct. 24 at 5 p.m., although an authorized representative for someone unable to go to the polls due to an illness or disability can return the application by Friday, Oct. 30 at 5 p.m.
Georgia voters can request an absentee ballot through an online portal from the secretary of state. The absentee request deadline is Friday, Oct. 30.
Georgians can also keep track of their ballot online here.
Cast your ballot
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3. Be aware that changes to polling places —including different locations, layouts and procedures — may occur due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Early in-person voting in South Carolina runs from Monday, Oct. 5 through Monday, Nov. 2 at 5 p.m. Saturday voting will be available on Oct. 31, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
In Georgia, early voting begins in person on Monday, Oct. 12. and ends Friday, Oct. 30. The mandatory Saturday voting day is set for Oct. 24.
Absentee ballots in Georgia and South Carolina must be returned by Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Election officials urge voters to make sure they are filling in the bubble clearly on their ballot to ensure it will count.
Those voting in Georgia can return their absentee ballots at drop boxes. There are eight being installed in Chatham County.
At this time, a court has ruled South Carolina voters do not need a witness signature on their absentee return envelope, however, it is possible this court ruling could change.
The state election commission says the safest practice is to have your signature witnessed.