Absentee voting reaches a new high amid pandemic

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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Tri-county wide, it’s been a higher than usual turnout for absentee voting both in person and via mail in ballot.  

The line coming from the Charleston County Election Headquarters may have seemed longer Monday, but Joe Debney, the Director of Elections for the County, said it was mainly due to their new precautions.  

It’s been taking anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes to funnel through—that line obviously looks a longer due to social distancing that we’re practicing here in our office. 

Joe Debney, Director of Elections Charleston County  

Debney said the real increase is coming from mail-in ballots. He added that for the 2016 Primary, there were 20,000 voters for both absentee and election day. On Monday, that number has already been met ahead of polls opening Tuesday.

For our mail-in ballots that is almost at 18,000 coming back—that is what we see during a presidential year. So most of our voters will have probably voted via absentee by mail prior to election day. We’ve had about 2,400 voters vote in person. 

Joe Debney, Director of Elections Charleston County  

As for Dorchester County, they said as of this morning, over 2,100 voters have voted in person and 3,000 have returned their mail-in ballots. That is approximately 5 times more than any pre-COVID-19 primaries.  

Debney said the majority of mail-in ballots were requested with the reasoning listed as COVID-19. For those concerned about your ballot not making it there—there are two ways you can verify if it did. The first being to track your ballot online, while the second is by coming in-person to drop it off. 

The second part of that is that you can ensure that your ballot gets here if you just received your ballot and you don’t feel like you have enough time to mail it back, they’re tow ways. One, right outside our office is a ballot drop box that you can place that into. We will shut that down by law 7p.m. tomorrow night, election day, and then we’ll pull all those ballots out. The other way is to physically come to our location and give it to us by hand.  

Joe Debney, Director of Elections Charleston County  

If there is a second wave of COVID-19, the legislature will look to renew that mail-in option come November elections.

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