COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – South Carolina’s election officials say the first no-excuse voting in the state was a success.

The state’s General Assembly and Governor Henry McMaster made the new early voting legislation official on May 13, making voting more accessible and secure.

Officials with the State Election Commission said more than 125,000 South Carolinians cast their ballots during the early voting periods prior to the June primaries and the follow-up runoffs. Early voters made up 16% of the nearly 800,000 ballots cast.

“The June primaries and runoffs were an unqualified success. I can’t say enough about the dedication of our poll managers and workers who serve on the front lines of our elections and play a vital role in conducting secure and accessible elections,” said Howie Knapp, Executive Director of the South Carolina State Election Commission. “Also, our county election officials deserve recognition for the extraordinary work they did to implement early voting with only 17 days before the early voting period was set to open.”

Election leaders said while the number of early voters in June was very encouraging, they expect its popularity to increase with future election cycles.

“With a longer timeline to establish early voting centers, South Carolinians can expect more locations in the future.  For the 2022 General Election in November, there will be two additional days of early voting (both Saturdays before Election Day) and centers will be open an extra hour every day of the early voting period (8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.),” they said.

They believe as more voters learn about early voting and experience the convenience of voting on their own schedule, rates will likely increase to levels comparable to election day voting.

“South Carolinians can be assured that in-person early voting in the November General Election will be smooth and successful,” officials said. “The South Carolina Election Commission continues to work diligently to protect and enhance the access, security and integrity of our election process.”

Voters were previously allowed to vote early but with an excuse. The state also pushed through an emergency early voting during the coronavirus pandemic for the 2020 election, but it still required an excuse to vote.

Statewide Primaries:

  • Early Voting – 100,450
  • Absentee Voting – 16,871
  • Election Day – 548,667
  • Total Voter Turnout – 565,538

Primary Runoffs:

  • Early Voting – 24,746
  • Absentee Voting – 6,452
  • Election Day – 217,980
  • Total Voter Turnout – 224, 432