For the first time in 26 years, Tamela Heyward will not be able to vote in the upcoming election.
The reason? Heyward says she changed her address at the Department of Motor Vehicles, but a confusing form has cost her the right to vote.
"On the form, the area that pertains to voting, it has a question and it says, 'Do you want to register to vote?'" said Heyward.
When most everyone else goes to the polls next month, Heyward will have to watch the voting from the sidelines. The 44-year-old registered voter moved from Lexington County to Richland County eight months ago. The first thing she did was change her address at the DMV, then got to the line on the form.
"Or no, I've already registered to vote, which I'm already registered. Voted in the last election, voted in every election since I've been able to. And, so, I put, 'No, I'm already registered to vote,' thinking my information would still be transferred from my address change and it was not and because of that, I can't vote," said Heyward.
On Monday, Heyward logged onto the state's voter registration site to check on her new precinct and realized she's still registered in Lexington County. Unless you check the "yes" box, the DMV doesn't forward your information to your new county.
State elections spokesman Chris Whitmire says 66,000 registered at the DMV this year, and only a few have called with troubles like Tamela Heyward.
"I've heard that complaint before, but not a lot. It's the exception, not the rule," said Whitmire.
The key to remember, Whitmire says, always check with your county voter registration office at least 30 days before an election. As for the form, Whitmire agrees it isn't totally clear.
"I can see how a person would make that mistake and I'm going to be talking to the DMV to see what might be able to be done; either to their website or either on a form to try to make that clearer," said Whitmire.
But, it's too late for Tamela Heyward, who helped the Obama campaign put on a 2008 Lexington town hall.
"It's hurtful," said Heyward. "I've cried, I've actually cried. I talked to my daughter at the college last night and she said, 'Mom, will you still go with me?' This is her first year voting and I told her I will, but it's going to be hurtful to stand there and know that this is the first time since I was 18 years old that I'm not going to be able to vote," said Heyward.
State elections is looking at helping the DMV make this form clearer to voters.
If you want to check your voter registration status, log onto SCVotes.org or you can call your county voter registration office. If you have registration problems, the deadline to change that was 19 days ago, so you might not be able to vote, either.
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