Election time 2020 is here and recent events tell us that it’s unclear what we can expect when we head to the polls.

Weapons at Polling Places

If you are a Concealed Weapons Permit Licensee, you probably already know that South Carolina law does not authorize you to carry your weapon to polling place on Election Day even with a valid South Carolina Concealed Weapons Permit (or “CWP”).

S.C.Code Ann. §23-31-215(M)(4) lists the places that even with a CWP you are not authorized to carry. Specifically, in relevant part, the statute states, “A permit issued pursuant to this section does not authorize a permit holder to carry a concealable weapon into a polling place on election days.” Therefore, if you go to vote in person, leave your firearm at home or locked securely in your car.

Absentee Ballot

To avoid long lines, potentially violent protests, and COVID-19 concerns, you may be interested in voting via an absentee ballot. A request for an absentee ballot may be made in one of the following ways:

  • By online application on your South Carolina Election Commission website;
  • By phone, email, fax, or mail to the county Board of Voter registration in your county;
  • In person at the county voter registration office up until 5 p.m. on the day prior to the election (note that some counties have additional absentee locations and you must have your photo identification);

To make a request, the following information is required:

  • The name of the voter for whom the ballot is being requested;
  • The voter’s address;
  • The voter’s date of birth; and
  • The last 4 digits of the voter’s social security number.

There are additional rules that can be found on the South Carolina Election Commission website. There is no deadline to request that a vote-by-mail ballot be mailed to you; however, practical considerations make it imperative that you do so soon enough prior to the election so that your ballot is received in time to be counted. The ballot must still be received by no later than 7 p.m. on Election Day if the voted ballot is to count.

Navigating Protests and Demonstrations

If you do decide that you would prefer to vote in person on the date of the election and encounter a protest, it is important that you keep your composure to avoid the situation from escalating. The aim of some protesters may be to create a situation that keeps those opposed to their views from voting. If you happen to end up in an altercation, you could be arrested and unable to vote. Every vote counts and I encourage you to exercise this very important civil right and responsibility.

If you have any further questions about this topic or any other gun-related questions, please feel free to contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.

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