As people anxiously await Election Night results, election officials call on people to stay patient

The anxiousness has been reflected on social media, especially after some races were called

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) — After a very eventful Election Night, social media has still been buzzing about some of South Carolina’s races, and the eagerness to find out who will win the 2020 Presidential Election.

The University of South Carolina Social Media Insights Lab says one of the hot topics statewide was the Senate race between Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison. The Associated Press declared Tuesday night that Graham secured re-election, with unofficial poll totals showing him ahead by nearly 265,000 votes as of Wednesday night.

Kaitlyn Park, the Director of the Social Media Insights Lab, said her team began studying social media patterns for the general election in June. They figured that President Donald Trump was firmly going to win South Carolina’s electoral votes (something affirmed by the Associated Press Tuesday night), but instead, focused on the upstart Senate race between the four-term Senator and the former South Carolina Democratic Party chair.

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, all the buzz on social media focused on Harrison, but as the night wore on, the tide began to turn.

“Around 5 to 6 o’clock, we did see this big bump for Lindsey Graham, so if, you know, you were working yesterday around that rush hour time, people leaving work, a lot of users talking about Lindsey Graham,” Park said. “And that steadily increased until he was actually named the winner of the South Carolina Senate race.”

Park notes that Harrison did receive a lot of buzz leading up to the election, especially when his donation totals came out and his advertising presence improved sharply, but also says social media interactions are not meant to be seen as a poll.

“You also have to consider there are certain people who don’t express their opinions on social media either way,” Park said. “However, in terms of did I run a successful campaign, I do think social media is a good gauge for that.”

Without a declared presidential election winner just yet, a lot more people have been posting throughout the day as poll workers across the country and state count a record number of absentee ballots.

The South Carolina State Election Commission says five counties (Richland, Lexington, Horry, Beaufort, and Dorchester) were still counting ballots Wednesday afternoon. A recent update on the state’s election dashboard showed that only Richland, Horry, and Dorchester still had ballots to count. 

Chris Whitmire, a spokesman with the State Election Commission said virtually all the counties should be done counting ballots by Wednesday night, with the exception of Dorchester County. Election officials are counting absentee ballots manually due to a printing error that impacted more than 14,000 ballots.

“Today, I’d say just be patient,” Whitmire told ABC Columbia. “Voters should understand that election results are not official until counties certify those results on Friday for those county-level races, and then ultimately when the State Election Commission certifies those results, which will be on Tuesday, November 10.”

Whitmire said the period between Election Day and the day the votes are certified a “canvassing period” where election officials are verifying that all ballots are legitimate and that all the votes are counted.

As for voter turnout, Whitmire told ABC Columbia he expects the final voter turnout to go up to 70% of the registered South Carolina voter pool, but said it’s highly unlikely it will surpass the 76% turnout record set back in 2008.

As of Wednesday at 6:00 p.m., nearly 2.5 million South Carolinians voted in the 2020 general election, with 1.3 million opting to vote prior to November 3.

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