This is the last issue of the Bluffton Sun before Election Day. The next one will arrive on that day, Nov. 3. And that’s a smidge too late for the topic of this column.
You might have noticed that we don’t report on politics in the Bluffton Sun. There’s a reason for that.
Our publishers, past and present, determined that since political information is available everywhere, even in your pocket or purse, we needn’t replicate it. Rather, we would focus on local news, local features, local people, local events, local art – you get the picture.
In the interest of providing local news, in our Oct. 6 issue we published candidates’ answers to three questions we posed to them. There’s another offering in this issue regarding the school board race for District 9, which covers Bluffton.
The closest we come to politics is encouraging our readers to register to vote, learn more about candidates running for office, and then get out there and vote!
And that leads to my topic: Voting. I consider it part of my civic duty to encourage others to vote, and to share as much voting information as I can.
• The S.C. Election Commission has a jewel of a website for anything voting related. You can get personalized voting information – including a sample ballot – by filling out their form. You may take the ballot to the poll with you, whether you vote absentee in person (“early” voting) or on Nov. 3. Check it out at SCVotes.org.
• Another great site is provided by the League of Women Voters, which is not just for women! Visit their Vote411.org, enter your address and the races that are on your ballot will be listed. Click and learn about each candidate – if they have answered the organization’s questions.
• If you didn’t get what you need on those sites, check out beaufortcountysc.gov/vote.
• There has been a change in requirements for absentee voting for the upcoming election. Because of the State of Emergency situation due to COVID-19, all registered voters are eligible to vote absentee.
• You may also vote by mail, but if you don’t already have a ballot, you might reconsider. You must apply for this option by 5 p.m. Oct. 24. It could take two weeks or more to receive a ballot, so do it now.
• Absentee ballots must be RECEIVED at the county registration office (NOT just postmarked!) by 7 p.m. Nov. 3, whether by mail or in person. Don’t forget to SIGN your ballot. A WITNESS signature is required! Any person can witness – related, not related, doesn’t matter. Just don’t forget these two things!
• Absentee in-person voting, and the dropping off of absentee ballots, can be done any time the main office of elections and satellite offices are open. The absentee precincts will be open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday – and on Saturday, Oct. 31 only, the absentee precincts will be open 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
They will close at 5 p.m. Nov. 2, the day before election day.
You will need your driver’s license or state-issued photo ID at the polling place.
The addresses are:
Beaufort (main office), 15 John Galt Road
Bluffton (satellite office), 61B Ulmer Road
Hilton Head Island (satellite office), 539 William Hilton Parkway
• Pro tip: You needn’t be a resident of the town in which you go to vote absentee! Lines in Bluffton were said to have been long-ish during the first week. Some folks drove over to Hilton Head and voted there in half the time.
• Polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 3.
There. I’ve encouraged you and given you information to help you do your civic duty, to exercise your privilege and your right. Now, get out there and VOTE like your life depends on it.