Can you trust the SC primary election results? Here’s how it all works

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South Carolinians will cast their votes today in the statewide primary election, but how do they know their ballots will be counted and handled appropriately?

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today for the primary election. Every state House and Senate seat — 170 races across the state — will be on the ballot.

As a way to ensure that South Carolina elections were not being compromised, the State Law Enforcement Division last month released a report that confirmed non-U.S. citizens were not being registered to vote in the state. South Carolina law requires a person be a U.S. citizen to be eligible to register to vote.

Meanwhile, the State Election Commission goes to great lengths every year to ensure fair and accurate elections. Here’s what to know about how ballots are counted and the accuracy of election results.

How does South Carolina count ballots?

The State Election Commission requires hand-count audits to be conducted in all counties before certification of any federal or state-level election. Voters verify their votes on their paper ballot before casting it. The hand-count audit is designed to ensure the votes recorded by the scanners match what was verified by the voters.

In a hand-count audit:

  • Precincts and offices are selected for the audit by the SEC for each county in federal and state-level elections. Local election officials select the precincts and offices for local elections.

  • Election officials publicly open the ballot box for the selected precinct(s) and hand count the votes for the selected office on the voter-verified paper ballots.

How can I trust the accuracy of SC election results?

South Carolina has a statewide, paper-based voting system featuring ballot-marking devices (BMDs) and scanners for in-person voting and hand-marked paper ballots for absentee voting. Using BMDs helps make voting more accessible and creates a paper record of every ballot cast. Ballots scanned at polling places are automatically fed into a locked and sealed ballot box below the scanner.

The SEC works with the Department of Homeland Security to regularly assess the security of each location in all 46 counties to identify potential vulnerabilities and improve security. County election offices keep detailed logs of where voting equipment is stored along with information about who, when and where someone may have accessed a storage facility. Also, the voting system is never connected to the internet.

Election transparency:

  • The public and media can observe the election process at polling places from opening of the polls to closing of the polls and vote tabulation.

  • Candidates and political parties can appoint poll watchers to observe at polling places.

  • The public and media can observe the return of ballots and equipment and tabulation of votes on election night.

When and where will election results be reported?

The State Election Commission will report unofficial results on election night at scVOTES.gov.

Results are reported as the SEC receives them from each county elections offices. Results are also reported locally at each polling place and at county elections offices.

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