South Carolinians voting-by-mail in record numbers ahead of June primary

So far, 113,000 South Carolinians have opted to vote-by-mail for the primary

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) —With just one week left until the South Carolina primary, South Carolinians are opting to cast their vote through the mail in record numbers.

The State Election Commission says nearly 80% of all absentee votes statewide are placing their ballots in the mailbox ahead of the June 9 primary.

Just three weeks after the General Assembly voted to expand absentee voting access for the June primaries and subsequent run-offs, election offices across the state have seen a surge in people wanting to vote by mail.

So far, 143,000 absentee ballots have been issued statewide, with 113,000 people opting to cast their vote away from the polling place.

This eclipses the 60,000 absentee ballots issued for the June primaries in both 2016 and 2018, and could inch closer to another voting milestone.

“The record for absentee by mail in any election, which was set in the  presidential general election back in November 2016, was about 140,000, so we’re approaching a record for absentee-by-mail,” said Chris Whitmire with the State Election Commission.

Charleston, Richland, Greenville, and Lexington Counties have issued the most absentee ballots so far.

Richland County has received 23 thousand requests for absentee ballots, and have issued 16,000 so far.

“Most of those are being mailed out, and we mail out anywhere from 500 to 1,000 ballots a day,” Terry Graham, the Interim Director of the Richland County Board of Voter Registration and Elections, told the Richland County Legislative Delegation last Tuesday.

More than 29,000 people have opted to cast their absentee vote in person, and more might decide to vote in-person next Tuesday, according to the State Election Commission.

Voters are encouraged to wear masks and bring their own pen to the polling place, but they will also be handed a cotton swab before casting their vote.

“That’ll help voters from having to touch the touch-screen after each other,” Whitmire said.

In last week’s meeting with the Richland County delegation, Graham expressed concerns about consolidating polling places and having enough personal protective equipment for poll workers.

Whitmire said only 82,000 people have returned their absentee ballots so far. The deadline to return a ballot is 7 p.m. Tuesday evening.

“There’s still time to mail it, but you need to get in the mail now and mail it back,” Whitmire said.

For more information on registering to vote or casting your absentee ballot, click here.

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