In S.C., you can cast an early ballot by voting absentee

South Carolina doesn't offer early voting as North Carolina does. But elections officials remind S.C. voters there's still time to cast absentee ballots.

Voting absentee means you avoid long lines on Tuesday. And S.C. elections official Wanda Hemphill promises the process is “relatively easy.”

Absentee voting deadline is 5 p.m. Monday. You do have to already be registered to vote.

Hemphill says a record number of voters have requested absentee ballots this fall.

“I'm not sure what's prompting it other than a lot of interest in the presidential race because of the economy. But we've had 13,000 requests through this weekend, which is a record for us here in York County,” said Hemphill, director of York County Registration and Elections.

There are 17 ways to qualify.

For example, York County residents who commute to Charlotte and can't vote between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Tuesday can simply sign a card that “for reasons of employment” they're unable to visit the polls. Other ways include if you are on vacation, or you are 65 or older.

“Some people think that practically the only way they can vote absentee is if they are in the military or out of the country, and that's just not true,” Hemphill said. “If you have practically any valid reason that would interfere with you voting on Tuesday, you can vote early in South Carolina. The goal is to make it easier, not harder to vote.”

York County voters wishing to vote absentee need to come by the York County Registration and Elections office at 13 S. Congress St. in York between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays. For more information, call 803-684-1242 or visit www.yorkcountygov.com – and scroll to departments, then to Registration and Elections.

Other absentee voters can include: students, their spouses and dependents residing with them; members of the Armed Forces, Merchant Marine, Red Cross, USO; government employees, their spouses and dependents residing with them; overseas citizens; the physically disabled; those admitted to the hospital as emergency patients on Election Day or at least four days prior.

It also includes voters: with a death or funeral in the family within 3 days before the election; confined to jail pending disposition of arrest or trial; attending sick or physically disabled people; serving as jurors on Election Day. And it includes certified poll watchers and poll managers.