CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD)- Charleston and Berkeley counties have seen a surge of voters casting ballots early with just days to go until the municipal runoff election.
Three races advanced to a Nov. 21 runoff including Charleston Mayor, Charleston City Council District 9, and Folly Beach City Council after no candidate in those races earned at least 50% of the vote in the Nov. 7 election.
With one day left to vote early, election officials in both counties say they have seen higher turnout than expected citing timing as a major contributing factor.
“The election is falling right before the holidays and people traveling, so I think a lot of people are excited about the election but also have vacation plans or will be leaving town,” Executive Director for Charleston County Board of Elections Issac Cramer said.
3,700 people in Charleston County had already voted as of Friday afternoon. That puts the county on pace to surpass 4,000 in-person votes within the three day early voting period, according to Cramer, who called the figure “extraordinary.”
“Putting that in perspective, in two weeks in Charleston County in the City of Charleston, we had over 6,000 people vote early,” he said. “I’m really encouraged by the voter participation. It’s a good thing to see people come out and exercise their right to vote.”
The Charleston County Election Headquarters had a steady stream of voters throughout the afternoon on Friday.
“So, we’re out early because we’re going to be out of town next weekend for Thanksgiving and it was a concern that because of the runoff being on Thanksgiving that turnout might be low so we’re here today,” Brandon Graham told News 2.
Harold Hill, another Charleston County voter, said he came out early because he will be traveling next week as well.
“It’s a difficult time of the year to break apart from family and friends to go out and vote so, it’s important to me to get that vote cast so, therefore I came out today with my wife,” Hill said.
Berkeley County is seeing a similar trend, according to elections Director Rosie Brown. The only race on the ballot for those voters is Charleston mayor.
Brown said 770 people have already voted, with over half of those ballots cast on Thursday alone, Brown said. That is only slightly less than the number cast during the entire two week early-voting period for the Nov. 7 City of Charleston elections.
“We didn’t expect this number turnout for the runoff being that not that many people voted early during the municipal election,” she said.
As they cast their ballots, voters kept in mind what they want to see out of their next leaders.
“They can bring people together. That’s what we need. Real leadership unites people, so we want that,” said Dr. John Kerrison, who voted in Charleston County.
Charleston County voters can visit the election office headquarters at 4340 Corporate Road in North Charleston to cast their vote early. Berkeley County’s early voting location is the Daniel Island Library located at 2301 Daniel Island Drive.
Early voting closes Friday, Nov. 17 at 5 p.m.
Polls for the runoff election will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 21.