Return all by mail absentee applications and ballots to: PO Box 5330, Columbia, SC 29205
Check the Status of Your Absentee Ballot
All Richland County registered voters have the option of voting either using by-mail absentee voting or in-person absentee voting.
In-Person absentee voting begins 30 days before an election and runs through the day before the election at the Richland County Elections & Voter Registration Office at 2020 Hampton Street, Columbia, SC 29202. Voting occurs between 8:30 am and 5:00 pm Monday through Friday. With in-person absentee voting, you can complete an application, and cast your ballot in one step. You may vote in person absentee up until 5:00 p.m. on the day before the election. You must bring your photo identification with you in order to vote in-person absentee.
Follow these steps to vote absentee by mail. Photo ID is not required to vote absentee by mail.
Step 1: Get an absentee application in one of two ways:
- Get the application online. Use this link to get your application or the application of an immediate family member online. To get your application online, you must be able to print your application or save your application for printing later. You can also use this link to access your application to print again.
- Request an application for yourself or your immediate family member from the Richland County Elections & Voter Registration office by phone (803-576-2240), mail (PO Box 5330, Columbia, SC 29205), email (email@example.com), or fax (803-576-2249). You will be mailed an application.
See complete rules below on requesting applications for other voters.
Step 2: You've now printed your application online or received your application in the mail. You must now complete and sign the application and return it to your county voter registration office. You should return the application as soon as possible but no later than 5:00 p.m. on the 4th day prior to the election (the 4th day is Friday for all Tuesday elections). You may return the application by mail, email, fax, or personal delivery.
Step 3: Receive your absentee ballot in the mail.
Step 4: Vote the ballot following ballot instructions and return it to the county voter registration office in your county of residence by 7:00 p.m. on the day of the election. You may return the ballot personally or by mail. You may also have another person return the ballot for you, but you must first complete an authorization to return absentee ballot form, available from your county voter registration office.
Persons qualified to vote by absentee ballot:
- Members of the Armed Forces or Merchant Marine serving outside their county of residence and their spouses and dependents residing with them
- Persons serving with the American Red Cross or with the United Service Organizations (USO) who are attached to and serving with the Armed Forces outside their county of residence and their spouses and dependents residing with them
- Overseas Citizens
- Persons who are physically disabled
- Students attending school outside their county of residence and their spouses and dependents residing with them
- Persons who for reasons of employment will not be able to vote on election day
- Government employees serving outside their county of residence on Election Day and their spouses and dependents residing with them
- Persons who plan to be on vacation outside their county of residence on Election Day
- Persons serving as a juror in state or federal court on Election Day
- Persons admitted to the hospital as emergency patients on Election Day or within a four-day period before the election
- Persons with a death or funeral in the family within three days before the election
- Persons confined to a jail or pre-trial facility pending disposition of arrest or trial
- Persons attending sick or physically disabled persons
- Certified poll watchers, poll managers, and county election officials working on Election Day
- Persons sixty-five years of age or older
- Persons who for religious reasons do not want to vote on a Saturday (Presidential Primaries Only)
Absentee Voting Procedures for Military and Overseas Citizens. Click here to visit the Military and Overseas Citizens page.
Absentee Voting Procedures for Residential Care Facilities
Who Can Request an Application/Return an Absentee Ballot
- Voters may request an absentee ballot in person, by phone (except authorized representatives), by phone (803-576-2240), mail (PO Box 5330, Columbia, SC 29205), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or fax (803-576-2249).
- The voter, a member of the voter's immediate family, or the voter's authorized representative may request the absentee ballot application. An authorized representative is a registered voter who, with a voter's permission, can request an absentee ballot application on behalf of a voter who qualifies because of illness or disability. Candidates and paid campaign workers may not serve as authorized representatives.
- Voters admitted to the hospital as an emergency patient on the day of the election or within four days of the election can have an immediate family member apply and carry a ballot to the voter.
- To have your absentee ballot returned by a person other than yourself, it is necessary for the absentee voter to compete an "Authorization to Return Absentee Ballot Form", this form is included with your ballot. The absentee voter completes Part I, and the person returning the ballot completes Part II of the form. Candidates and paid campaign workers may not return absentee ballots unless they are an immediate family member of the voter.
Additional Absentee Voting Rules
- Your completed absentee ballot must be placed in the "Ballots Herein" envelope provided with your absentee ballot. The "Ballots Herein" envelope will then be placed inside a "Return Envelope" which you must sign and have witnessed before returning.
- State law requires the voter to sign the application for an absentee ballot and oath on the envelope used to return the absentee ballot. A "power of attorney" is not applicable for voting. Voters unable to write because of physical handicap or illiteracy may receive help in applying for and marking their ballot. The voter must make his/her mark and have the mark witnessed by someone chosen by the voter.
- For more information regarding voter registration and absentee voting, contact your our office at 803-576-2240.