Don’t be surprised when you go to the polls to vote in the June 9 primary if you don’t see familiar faces. Most likely, many of the poll workers will be people you know, but since they’ll be wearing masks and gloves, you may not recognize them at first.

With the Democrat and Republican party primaries being held on that Tuesday, the poll clerks and poll managers are being provided masks and gloves. Also, two of the workers at each precinct will likely be wearing plastic face shields.

If you bring your own pen to sign in, you may do that. If not, the poll workers will offer you a pen that will be sanitized before it’s used again.

Social distancing of 6 feet apart will also be the norm for primary election day.

These and other procedures are all part of the process that the State Election Commission and the Georgetown County Board of Voter Registration and Elections are using to help deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

On May 13, the S.C. General Assembly approved a law that will allow people to pick the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason why they are requesting an absentee ballot. Normally, that would not be allowed, but in light of the worldwide concerns about the Chinese Coronavirus, the new law allows that method for the June 9 primaries and any required runoffs on June 23.

Also because of the social distancing and health concerns, there may be some changes in polling places for the primaries.

Some poll workers are in the higher-risk categories, such as age or other reasons where they have decided not to work these particular elections.

Because of the unplanned shortage of poll workers, in some cases polling places have been combined. When we get a list of those changes we’ll post them on our Web site:

Along with wearing the masks and gloves, after poll workers verify that a voter is eligible to vote in a party primary, the poll manager will give the voter a long cotton swab stick. That will be used to operate the touch-screen ballot marking device, and then the voter will throw it away.

Voters are not required to wear a mask to vote, but people who would feel more comfortable with a mask are welcome to wear their own mask as they come to their polling places.

Primary voting

When you go to the polls, be sure to have your valid photo I.D. ready to show the poll manager. You’ll be asked whether you wish to vote in the Democrat or Republican primary.

South Carolina has open primaries, and voters do not register by party. That means that you may choose to vote in one or the other party’s primary election on June 9. If you vote that day and a runoff is required for some races on June 23, you’ll only be able to vote in the runoff for whichever party you cast a ballot on June 9.

You may not vote for some candidates in one party and other candidates in other races for the other political party.

Absentee voting

From the county’s Web site: With ongoing concerns about COVID-19, many voters are thinking about potential health risks that may come with voting in person at their precinct. With a larger than usual turnout expected for 2020 elections, voters with physical limitations may also have serious concerns about waiting in line. Luckily, voting absentee is a great option that can alleviate these concerns.

Did you know you can vote by mail in South Carolina?

It’s called absentee voting, and as of May 13, every registered voter in South Carolina is qualified to vote absentee in the June 2020 Primaries and any runoff elections that follow. This means voters can vote in person right now at the Elections Office in Georgetown (303 North Hazard St.) or can request a ballot to mail in their vote. If you want to mail in your vote, please request your ballot and send it back as soon as possible. Check with the Election Office at (843) 545-3339 for deadline dates for absentee ballots.

Voter information

There’s a lot of information on the local and state election Web sites. Here are links:

Local Web site:

State Web site: