Early voting begins in South Carolina; hundreds show up in Richland Co. to cast their votes
People can vote early up until 5 p-m on November 2
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) — Monday marked the first day of early voting for the November election, and thousands showed up at voting offices across the state to make their voices heard.
In Richland County, as many as 500 voters waited in line Monday morning to cast their vote. Some waited for up to three hours for the opportunity to vote, since Richland County election officials are only letting eight voters in at one time.
Some voters cited concerns about voting-by-mail as their reason for coming out to vote. An ongoing court battle over whether the state should require voters to obtain a witness signature when voting absentee-by-mail has caused some confusion among voters, and other issues with the postal service pushed some to cast their votes early.
“I thought it was very important that I vote in-person, because I’ve heard so much about the mail, and I want to make sure my vote counts,” said Linda DuRant, a voter from Richland County.
Due to the long lines that emerged at polling places during the state primaries June 9, some thought it would be better to beat the Election Day rush.
“I have concerns about how long the line will be on actual Election Day in November, and I think that instead of three hours today, it might be seven or eight on November 3, so I wanted to get it done in the most convenient way possible,” said Devon Mosesel, a Richland County voter.
Richland County election officials anticipated the long lines and made sure they had a large number of poll workers to guide voters along. Alexandria Stephens, the Director of Richland County’s Board of Elections and Voter Registration, told ABC Columbia that they had eight poll workers on hand to facilitate voting this morning. However, with this election taking place during a pandemic, Stephens safety is still a top priority.
“We’re only allowing eight people in at a time to maintain social distancing and to make sure everyone is safe, but we have the workers getting the voters in and out as safely as possible,” Stephens said.
Stephens says her team expects long lines at the voter registration office each day until November 2, which is the final day someone can vote absentee in-person.
Starting on Wednesday, October 7, there will be a series of satellite polling places throughout the county where voters can come and cast their votes.
These locations, which will be open to voters from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. include:
- Garners Ferry Adult Activity Center (8620 Garners Ferry Road, Hopkins)
- Adult Activity Center — Parklane (7494 Parklane Road, Columbia)
- Ballentine Community Center (1009 Bickley Road, Irmo)
- North Springs Park Community Center (1320 Clemson Road, Columbia)’
- Masonic Temple (2324 Gervais Street, Columbia)
The Richland County Administration Building will also be open to voters on October 24 and October 31 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Stephens said all you need if you want to vote early is a valid South Carolina photo ID and a little patience.
“We want to make sure everybody gets an opportunity to vote. Please don’t let the lines discourage you because your vote is important and we want to afford everybody that opportunity,” Stephens said.
As of Monday, Stephens told ABC Columbia that 66,802 people submitted requests for absentee ballots, with 41,521 of those people returning the ballots to the election office. Stephens said absentee ballots will start being sent to voters starting Monday afternoon.