SC officials file emergency request to require witness signatures on absentee ballots

Latest ruling says voters don’t need witness signature on absentee ballot

IMPORTANT NOTE -- Since this report, it has been decided that witnesses signatures ARE REQUIRED for absentee ballots in South Carolina. Any absentee ballot submitted after Oct. 7 must have a witness signature.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The court battle over whether you need a witness signature on your absentee ballot continues, with the latest ruling coming on Monday, once again removing the witness signature requirement.

The back and forth about whether or not a witness signature is required has caused not only confusion but fear for voters over whether their vote will be counted if they don’t have a signature.

“I had knots in my stomach, I was terrified they wouldn’t count my vote,” Brittany Risher, Lexington, S.C. resident, said.

Risher said she mailed off her absentee ballot a few weeks ago when the witness signature wasn’t required.

“I just filled it out and put it back in the mail and the very next day I saw on the news that it has to be signed,” Risher said.

On September 19, a US District Court Judge suspended the requirement for a witness signature, followed by the US Fourth Circuit of Appeals 3 judge panel overturning a ruling from last Friday. The full court ruled on Monday suspending the signature requirement once again.

“Where we stand today is the witness signature is not required but the court case is on-going and it could potentially be overturned again,” Chris Whitmire, South Carolina State Election Commission Spokesperson, said

However, Whitmire said his message to voters is to be on the safe side.

“If you want to take the controversy or the guesswork out of this whole witness signature controversy… is to just get one,” Whitmire said.

Many legislators are split on whether the signature should be required.

“We are trying to make this as safe as it can be to prevent any fraud or anything that would hinder an election, and that’s our biggest goal,” Representative Chip Huggins, District 85 (R), said.

“People are stressed out. People’s kids can’t go to school because of this virus, they are losing their jobs, and now this confusion unnecessarily over something like a witness when some people have been self-quarantining for months,” Representative Wendy Brawley, District 70 (D), said.

Whitmire said the back and forth has been frustrating.

“It makes it difficult for us but that’s not really important, I think what’s important is that it causes confusion for voters,” Whitmire said.

It’s something many voters agree with.

“People are already voting and I don’t think its right that these significant changes should be allowed. I think people deserve a clear straightforward answer on how they are going to be able to vote,” Risher said.

Election Commission officials said they plan on counting all ballots without a signature that were mailed during the time when a witness wasn’t required.

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