Can a Felon Vote in South Carolina?

South Carolina used to be merged with North Carolina as a single colony named after King Charles I until a separation in 1710. South Carolina is among the original 13 colonies and was the 8th state to join the union on May 23, 1788. Its current capital is Columbia and has a total population estimate of 4,961,119 as of July 2016 based from the US Census Bureau.

According to the US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, South Carolina had a total of 20,929 inmates under jurisdiction of correctional authorities. This population was composed of 19,574 males and 1,355 females. A -2.2% change has been observed with it compared to data from 2014.

Some people would argue that felon voting is impractical while others would find this unethical and believe that sending a person to prison to limit their freedoms does not necessarily require the system to strip them off of their civil rights, including the right to suffrage. As some laws allow for this right to be continued even during or after incarceration, deprivation of it would then seem as disrespect for the rule of law. Promoting this right does not only uphold democracy but also encourages returning ex-offenders to contribute to common good through legal participations in the society.

Can Felons Vote in South Carolina?

Restrictions in felon voting vary among the states in the US depending on the state laws. An offender’s crime, resulting conviction, and even time spent under incarceration may also affect the deprivation or restoration of voting rights even after the individual’s release.

South Carolina belongs to the majority of states that allow the restoration of voting rights after the offender has cleared their term of incarceration, parole, and probation conditions. The right to vote is automatically restored when the ex-offender re-registers for it.

As a general rule, currently incarcerated individuals convicted with crime serving jail time and those convicted of offence against election laws are however disqualified from registering and voting.

Inmates who are granted of pardon will also have their civil rights restored including their rights for voting registration and actual voting.

How Felons Can Restore Voting Rights in South Carolina?

To re-register for voting rights, the South Carolina Code of Laws on Elections states that:

  • An applicant must accomplish a form that requires their complete personal details
  • An applicant’s sound mental state must be confirmed by the authorities
  • The applicant must swear an oath required by the officers in charge of the application

Applicants who violate any of the said measures through fraud will be subject to perjury.


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