COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD)- With one week of early voting passed, state election officials say turnout was slow at first but has gained momentum in recent days.
Officials with the South Carolina Election Commission report that more than 51,000 voters have already cast their primary ballots, with another roughly 40,000 expected to do so by the end of the early voting period.
“Early voting started off slow, but it’s picked up steam,” Director of Public Information Chris Whitmire said. “It’s gone up a little bit every day and I would expect to see that continue today, tomorrow, and Friday.”
Whitmire said the first day of early voting–May 31–saw roughly 6,000 voters take to the polls, but that number has doubled in just a week with 12,000 ballots cast on June 7.
While concerns swirled of possible voter confusion in light of recent state redistricting, Whitmire said the majority of South Carolinians were not moved out of their previous districts and there is no evidence it has affected turnout.
“Generally speaking, you’re making changes around the edges,” he explained. “You’re changing lines around the borders so it’s more than likely that if you live in the heart of the district it’s likely that you’re not changing.”
In fact, the higher turnout may be attributable to widespread early voting taking place for the first time in the state.
The bill signed May 13 by Governor McMaster allows for in-person early voting for two weeks leading up to election day. Every one of South Carolina’s 3.5 million registered voters is eligible to vote early without an excuse.
“I love it. It was only ten minutes in and out. I’m enjoying it,” said Sheryl Pittman, who was voting early in Charleston County.
“It was very efficient. I was very impressed,” said James Muir, who also cast his ballot in Charleston.
In the 2018 primaries, the Election Commission reported roughly 58,000 people voted before election day through in-person and mail-in absentee voting. That number has almost been reached this cycle, with three days of early voting left.
“We’ll definitely surpass that,” Whitmire said.
As early voting is fully implemented across the state, the result could be more South Carolinians voting before Election Day than on it. Whitmire said that could provide some needed relief at precincts for voters and poll workers.
“The lines, the pressure on the poll managers, the voter issues, all of those things are reduced by early voting and makes Election Day go much more smoothly,” he said.
Early voting locations
The procedure to vote early is the same as on Election Day. Voters must present a valid photo ID.
South Carolina has open primaries, so voters can choose which ballot–Republican or Democrat- to vote on.
County Voter Registration and Elections Office: 1003 US Highway 52, Moncks Corner, SC 29461
Hanahan Library: 1216 Old Murray Court, Hanahan, SC 29410
St. Stephen Library: 113 Ravenell Drive Street, Stephen, SC 29479
County Voter Registration and Elections Office: 4367 Headquarters Road, North Charleston, SC 29405
County Voter Registration and Elections Office: 2471 Jefferies Highway, Walterboro, SC 29488
County Voter Registration and Elections Office: 201 Johnston Street, Saint George, SC 29477
Alston Bailey Elementary: 820 W 5th North Street, Summerville, SC 29483
Wescott Park: 9006 Dorchester Road, North Charleston, SC 29420
County Voter Registration and Elections Office: 303 N. Hazard Street, Georgetown, SC 29440
Andrews Recreation Center: 220 S. Cedar Avenue, Andrews, SC 29510
Choppee Recreation Center: 8259 Choppee Road, Georgetown, SC 29440
Waccamaw Neck Library: 41 Street, Paul’s Place, Pawleys Island, SC 29440
Alex Chatman Auditorium: 147 West Main Street, Kingstree, SC 29556
JJ Mitcheom Community Center: 2233 Hemingway Highway, Hemingway, SC 29554
Before heading out to the polls, visit scvotes.gov and select “Get My Sample Ballot” to verify your district and precinct.