Despite pandemic, SC voters head to the polls Tuesday

In what's been a first for voters, South Carolina held its primary election on Tuesday during the COVID-19 pandemic.

W6 P Primary Vote

Richland County, S.C. (WOLO) — In what’s been a first for voters, South Carolina held its primary election on Tuesday during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because of the virus, polling locations looked different this year to voters who didn’t vote absentee.

“First time working an election having to wear PPE, but as everybody knows with the COVID situation going on, it’s necessary,” said Anthony Blair, a poll clerk in Richland County.

“Brought my own Q-tip, my own pen, my own gloves and my own facemask. They did have Q Tips but I didn’t even use theirs cause I brought my own,” said Erin Parker, a voter.

Social distancing measures, clean machines and masks were staples at every polling location.

“We’ve been seeing a lot of voters come out, they’ve been wearing masks, been wearing gloves. So that’s been putting everybody at ease. The voters are doing their part, we’re doing our part,” said Blair.

Because of the pandemic, precincts were combined. Election officials say this caused long lines and issues with knowing where to vote.

“We went to the wrong polling location because we did not receive the notice in the mail and the SC Votes website also would not load to let us know the correct polling location. So I had to have a friend look it up for me,” said Parker.

“I didn’t expect that there would be two other precincts at this precinct though. And I understand that there’s limited people that are participating as poll watchers so I understand the process and I just had to be patient with it and all,” said Terri Sheppard, another voter.

Chris Whitmire, Director of Public Information with the South Carolina Election Commission, said “as for turnout, anecdotal reports from county officials indicate turnout has been ‘moderate,’ ‘steady,’ and ‘higher than expected considering the number of absentee ballots cast.'”

“Well, I really didn’t know what to expect. We heard a lot of people had voted absentee but usually in the morning we get a big rush, and that’s what we had,” said Blair.

“Only thing that would concern me about November is the number of people and how quickly we’ll get in and out. Because it appears to take just a little bit longer to do this than the old-fashioned way,” said Ken Jones, a voter.

Voters said despite these challenges, it’s still a civic duty to come out and vote.

“With everything that we have going on; the pandemic, the politicians, the police brutality, we need to go ahead and cast our votes to make a change,” said Sheppard.

Whitmire added the following issues voters may have seen Tuesday:

“In some cases, it could be that voters are not in the district they believe they are.  In other words, they’re not seeing a candidate they expect to see because they’re not really in that district.

It is also possible that some voters received incorrect ballot styles.

In places where we have received reports of this, we have asked Richland County to contact managers at polling places, or send someone out there, to make sure it’s corrected going forward.  In all cases, we believe that has been done and shouldn’t continue to be an issue.

If a voter votes an incorrect ballot style, it can’t be resolved.  Once a voter casts a ballot, whether it was correct or not, the voter can’t be issued another ballot.”

You may also report any issues you are seeing or experiencing to the Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE.

Polls remain open until 7 p.m.

Categories: Local News, News, State