Voter Registration office scrambles to process nearly 500 requests that arrived in single envelope

October 14, 2010 

Scott Marshall is confident his office can process the 486 absentee-ballot application requests that came to him in a single envelope Wednesday.

"What I can't do is add more days to the calendar," the executive director of the Beaufort County Board of Elections and Registration said Thursday.

Marshall said the application requests arrived Wednesday from South Carolina Victory 2010, an offshoot of the state Republican Party. The arrival leaves little time to complete the absentee ballot application process, which is just beginning for the 486 aspiring voters. Marshall's office will mail the application requests within a day or so, he said, but the applications must be filled out and returned. Only then can an absentee ballot be sent to the voter, who must then fill it out and return it to Marshall's office by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 2.

That's a lot of back-and-forth that must take place in 20 days if those votes are to be counted.

"Those requests weren't sent directly to us," Marshall said. "They were sent to South Carolina Victory 2010, and that might have been done a month or six weeks ago."

Marshall said his office deals regularly with voters wondering when their applications or ballots will arrive. Many have sent their applications through a third party, such as South Carolina Victory 2010. Although perfectly legal, Marshall does not recommend the practice because of the potential for delays and identity theft that he cannot control.

Attempts to reach a state GOP official Thursday were unsuccessful.

Marshall said all who do not receive a ballot in time or who change their minds about voting absentee can still cast a ballot at their regular polling place on Election Day.

Safeguards in the voter-registration system prevent those who cast an absentee ballot from voting again at a regular polling place, and they invalidate an absentee ballot received after the voter has cast a ballot at a regular polling place.

BY THE NUMBERS

Since absentee voting for the Nov. 2 general election opened Oct. 6, the County Board of Elections and Registration has:

  • Received 4,047 absentee ballot requests.

  • Issued 3,100 absentee ballots.

  • Received 983 ballots from voters.

    WHO QUALIFIES TO VOTE ABSENTEE?

  • Those who will be outside their county of residence on Election Day.

  • Members of the armed services or merchant mariners, and their spouses and dependents who live with them.

  • Those whose jobs will make them unavailable to vote on Election Day.

  • The physically disabled.

  • Those 65 or older.

  • Those serving as jurors in state or federal courts on Election Day.

  • Those admitted to the hospital as emergency patients on Election Day or within four days before the election.

  • Those with a death or funeral in the family within three days before the election

  • Those confined to a jail or pre-trial facility pending disposition of arrest or trial.

  • Those attending sick or physically disabled people.

  • Certified poll watchers, poll managers and county election officials working on Election Day

  • Persons who, for religious reasons, do not wish to vote on a Saturday if an election falls on that day.

    HOW TO VOTE ABSENTEE

    To vote in person: Visit one of the offices of the Beaufort County Board of Elections and Registration -- 15 John Galt Road in Beaufort or at 61-B Ulmer Road in Bluffton. At these locations, you can complete an application and cast your ballot. These polling places are open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday. On Nov. 1, polls are open until 5 p.m.

    To vote by mail, follow these steps:

    1. Contact the Beaufort County Board of Elections and Registration to request an absentee ballot application. The request can be made in person at an address listed above; by phone at 843-255-6900; by mail at the Beaufort County Board of Elections and Registration, P.O. Drawer 1228, Beaufort, SC 29901-1228; by e-mail at voter@bcgov.net; or by fax at 843-255-9429. An application will be mailed to you.

    2. Complete the application and return it to the Board of Elections and Registration by 5 p.m. on Oct. 29. The application can be returned in person or by mail, e-mail or fax.

    3. Follow the ballot instructions and return it to the Board of Elections and Registration by 7 p.m. Nov. 2. It can be returned in person or by mail. Absentee ballots will not be accepted at polling locations Nov. 2.

    FOR MORE INFORMATION

    To find more on absentee voting, to check your vote absentee ballot status, or to see a list of candidates and view sample ballots, go to www.bcgov.net/about-beaufort-county/public-service/voter-registration-an....

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