Frequently Asked Questions

Why did the State select a Direct Recording Electronic voting system?

The DRE voting system was chosen because it is the most accurate and accessible voting system on the market today. With a DRE voting system, there are no questions of voter intent. A voter cannot vote for more than one candidate for an office, all voters - including blind and visually impaired voters - are able to vote a secret ballot, and the ballots can be easily translated into multiple languages to comply with federal minority language requirements. The technology used in DRE voting systems has been tested by independent testing authorities and by states across the country, and has a proven record of accuracy and security.

Where can I get printed instructions on the operation of the voting machine?

Where can I find candidate and referendum information?

The best source of candidate and referendum information is your county board of elections/voter registration.  Your county should be able to provide you with a sample ballot or other information about county specific ballot information. The State Election Commission also has a website that provides ballot information that is applicable statewide.

Where can I find a sample ballot?

Sample ballots are posted on this website under each election notification.

Where are the touch-screen voting units being manufactured?

The iVotronic voting units are produced by ES&S Election Systems in manufacturing locations in the United States.

What safeguards are in place to ensure security?

The iVotronic touch-screen voting machine has been proven through use in thousands of elections throughout the State of South Carolina and worldwide. It was designed and built to the highest security standards. The iVotronic's closed system and unique personal electronic ballot are not open to either wireless or wire-based systems. This means the machine is not connected to any type of network at anytime. The system has three independent memory chips that store ballot data. The data in each memory location must match exactly in order to allow access to a cast ballot. This ensures no vote is cast in error, lost, or is in anyway altered. The iVotronic allows for a printed and documented record of precinct-level election activity to verify results.

What methods are being used to educate the voters on the new touch-screen system?

Various forms of education will be provided through voting demonstrations at public meetings, TV and radio promotions, advertising pamphlets, and this website.

What is touch-screen voting?

Touch-screen voting machines are like freestanding computers that allow you to make your ballots selections by simply touching the screen.

What is the history behind South Carolina’s selection of ES&S’ iVotronic voting machine?

As a result of the controversy surrounding the 2000 Presidential Election the Federal Government adopted the Help America Vote Act of 2002. As part of South Carolina's compliance with HAVA, the State's HAVA Advisory Committee recommended the adoption of a uniform statewide voting system.The State of South Carolina currently uses seven (7) different types of voting equipment in its 46 counties. There are 24 counties with five (5) different brands of direct record electronic (DRE) machines; 10 counties utilizing punch cards and 12 counties on a mark sense optical scan system. Additionally, there are a number of dissimilar absentee systems in use.The South Carolina SEC has continually sought ways to improve the election process and to maintain its integrity, as reflected in recent major SEC initiatives such as the 1999 Statewide Election Summit and the 2001 Governor’s Task Force on Elections. These statewide initiatives identified, among other priorities, a need to establish a statewide voting system.The South Carolina State Plan for implementing the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), developed with the valuable help of the HAVA State Plan Task Force, establishes a framework for achieving compliance with HAVA. This plan further emphasizes the importance of implementing a uniform statewide electronic voting system, and of achieving additional strategic objectives including: a) support for disabled voters in every precinct in the State; and b) training for voters, poll workers, and election officials.The DRE voting system was chosen because it is the most accurate and accessible voting system on the market today. With a DRE voting system, there are no questions of voter intent. A voter cannot vote for more than one candidate for an office, all voters - including blind and visually impaired voters - are able to vote a secret ballot, and the ballots can be easily translated into multiple languages to comply with federal minority language requirements. The technology used in DRE voting systems is the same technology used for electronic banking at ATMs, has been tested by independent testing authorities and by states across the country, and has a proven record of accuracy and security.After a lengthy and extensive evaluation process, State Election Commission selected the ES&S iVotronic DRE voting system. ES&S, Inc., is a leading supplier of voting system technologies. The ES&S iVotronic voting system is a touch screen system, meaning that the voter touches the screen to select the candidate of his or her choice. The voter has the opportunity to review his or her choices before casting a ballot and using a headset and keypad, blind voters or voters with visual impairments can cast a secret ballot for the first time.On October 29, 2002, President Bush signed the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). This landmark legislation requires each state to have, by January 1, 2006, a minimum of one voting system in each polling place that is accessible for voters with disabilities. To date, the DRE voting system is the only certified voting system that is accessible for voters with disabilities.The voting process has never been easier with the state-of-the-art iVotronic voting system.

What are official results?

After the election, a canvass is conducted to review accumulated votes. Results from individual voting units are uploaded into a new election configuration and compared with the election night totals. Only after the six member Board of Canvassers review and verify these results are they considered official.

Is the voting machine connected to the Internet while I am voting?

No. The voting unit is never connected to the Internet. Additionally, the voting units are not connected to each other. Each is a standalone, self-contained unit.

Is the touch-screen voting system user-friendly?

Yes. The new system has a sharp, viewable screen with modern touch-screen technology to enable the voter to easily maneuver through the ballot. If a voter touches a wrong choice or decides to make a change, the voter can just re-touch that choice and make a new selection. Many compare it to the ease of conducting a transaction on an automated teller machine (ATM). The voting process has never been easier with the state-of-the-art iVotronic voting system.

Is the new voting machine approved for voting in South Carolina?

Yes. The new system meets all state and federal testing and certification requirements. South Carolina also requires each voting unit to go through several levels of third-party acceptance testing and analysis before being accepted for use. The Federal Voting System Standards are available to the public on the Federal Election Commission Web site (www.fec.gov). Most of the previous voting systems that election officials seek to replace either have not been subject to third-party testing or have not been tested to the same rigorous standards that are now required for new systems.

I lost my voter registration card, what should I do now?

To get a replacement for a lost voter registration card, please contact your local county board of voter registration. Contact information for all South Carolina counties can be found in our article 'How To Register'. If you can't manage to get your card replaced, a valid South Carolina driver's license can be used as proof of identity at your local precinct. Please note, the address on your license must match the address on your voter registration. If they don't match, you may be required to cast a failsafe ballot.

I have moved to South Carolina after the 30 day voter registration deadline, can I still vote?

Federal legislation 1965 Voting Rights Act, as amended, section 42 USCA 1973aa-1 permits a voter who moves to a new state within 30 days prior to the Presidential election (and who may therefore fail to qualify for voter registration in their new state) to vote for President and Vice President only in their state of former residence. In South Carolina, this means a registered voter of another state who has moved to SC after the registration deadline may vote in their former state for President and Vice President only. That voter should contact their former voting office to request a ballot. If a registered voter of a South Carolina county moves to another state within 30 days (or after that state’s registration cut-off), this voter may contact their former county office and request an absentee ballot for President and Vice-President only. The voter would go through the normal absentee voting procedures, either by mail or in person. The former county is responsible for furnishing this voter a ballot for President/Vice President. A voter who has moved to another state within this deadline also has the option of returning to their former precinct and voting in person at the polls for President and Vice President only. This will probably require the voter to cast a provisional ballot.

I can’t find an answer to my question, are there other resources available?

Feel free to contact us with any additional questions.

How will the new machine prevent people from voting more than once?

All voters are checked in by election staff to ensure that they are a registered voter and that they are eligible to vote. The poll manager records their intention to vote, and acts as the safeguard to ensure that each person votes only once. A poll manager activates the voting machine with the proper ballot, which authorizes and allows one vote per voter. The poll manager monitors the voting process, and identifies and removes any voter who attempts to tamper with the voting equipment. It is a felony to tamper with the voting equipment or process, subject to a fine, imprisonment or both.

How is a Recount handled?

There are three ways to conduct a recount on the iVotronic voting system: (1) an automated recount of the central system; (2) an automated recount of the ballot images; or (3) a manual recount of the ballot images.(1) The automated recount of the central system involves creating a recount database in the central computer and then rereading the memory cards from each iVotronic voting units affected by the recount.(2) The automated recount of the ballot images is done by reading each vote cast on each iVotronic voting units from the precincts affected by the recount and recording each vote cast on the unit's recount tally sheet. This continues until all voting units affected are recounted.(3) On Model 650 tabulators, the manual recount of the ballot images is done by printing the ballot images from each of the voting units affected by the recount. Once the ballot images are printed, a team of election officials manually count the printed ballots.

How do I submit a change of address or register for my voting area?

Please see the section of our website titled How To Register.

How do I know the new voting machine will work properly on Election Day?

Each piece of equipment is prepared for the election by election staff and a test is held to verify this process. Before this process and after the test is completed, all equipment is sealed and secured until being opened by the poll managers in the polling location on Election Day.

How do I know my vote will be counted?

When the final on-screen ballots is complete, voters have the opportunity to review their choices. Once complete, voters are instructed to cast their votes by pressing the oval shaped 'VOTE' button at the top of the iVotronic voting machine. The iVotronic will not cast a ballot until all pages have been viewed and the review screen appears. At this point the 'VOTE' button begins to flash red. Pressing the button will finalize the voter's selections and cast their ballot. The voter will hear the unit beep twice as confirmation their vote was cast. The screen will also confirm the ballot was cast by displaying 'Thank you for voting'.You can download the iVotronic instructions (PDF file)or read the article How to Vote . You can also watch a video demonstration on how to use the voting machines.

How do I apply for an absentee ballot?

Visit the absentee voting page for information on applying for an absentee ballot.

How can I be assured that my vote is protected?

There are numerous checks and balances in the election process. There is rigorous and comprehensive testing performed on the hardware and software of the voting system and on each and every voting unit before the election as well as testing after the election. While the computers on which votes are recorded and tabulated are important, the election officials administering the elections are equally important. South Carolina's election officials are committed public servants who fully believe in the democratic process and the right of every individual to exercise the right to vote. Their integrity is beyond reproach. Additionally, South Carolina's poll managers are chosen for their trustworthiness and high integrity. They take an Oath of Office to uphold the public trust, once before Election Day and again on the morning of the election. These are the same poll managers in which you have placed your trust for years and years.

How are election results posted for poll watchers?

A small printer, much like the one used in adding machines, is attached to the voting unit. It is in a locked compartment during voting hours. After the polls close, a poll manager prints the vote totals for each candidate in each contest. After the poll manager signs the printed report, the report is posted on the wall, as has been done in the past.

Can my vote be altered?

No. Illegally changing votes would require a conspiracy of unscrupulous voters or election insiders, or a combination of the two. The electoral process is designed in such a way that no single individual, or even a small group of individuals, can tamper with the election results. It is also important to note that such a conspiracy would not necessarily require any "security relevant flaws" in the software code to accomplish its aims. Fraud of this degree would have the potential to undermine any voting system.

Are the DRE voting systems tested?

Yes. The voting system goes through a rigorous set of tests that are performed by the Independent Testing Authorities (ITAs) - one for the software (source code) and one for the hardware. The ITAs are certified by the Federal Election Commission and follow the Voting System Standards. The ITA tests to ensure that the voting system accurately tallies votes and that the hardware is impervious to destructive handling and magnetic devices. South Carolina receives the executable software directly from the ITA, not from ES&S. In addition to the testing performed by the Independent Testing Authorities, the State of South Carolina conducts tests on each voting unit before it can be certified for use in the State.

After I cast my ballot, where do my votes go?

Election results are stored in three independent memory locations within the voting machine. Additionally there is a removable storage card locked inside the voting unit that records internal audit information.