A sign outside the Richland County Voter Registration & Elections Office tells voters where to cast their ballots. (Photos and graphic by Grace Tippett)
South Carolina has set a one-day record with about 40,000 ballots cast only one day into early voting.
The record follows new voting legislation enacted by the S.C. Legislature in May. Under the new law, residents can vote up to two weeks early at one of their county’s early voting locations without having to cast an absentee ballot.
“I believe this new legislation is definitely a factor in the voting turnout that we have seen thus far,” said Cal Forrest, R-Saluda County. “People have different types of work and life schedules, so a two-week voting period makes it much more accessible for many South Carolinians to cast their ballots.”
South Carolina is not the only state seeing an influx of early votes. According to a press release from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the state’s first week of early votes cast stood was 211% of the 2018 midterm total.
So, “211% of 2018 shows that voters are enthusiastic, but most importantly, have the options available to get that vote in early,” Raffensperger said.
Early S.C. voting started on Monday and runs through the Saturday before Election Day, Nov. 5. Polling locations will be open Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“I encourage anyone that wants to vote to go ahead and vote early,” said Terry Graham, interim director of the Richland County Voter Registration & Elections Office.
S.C. residents who are registered to vote can vote early.
“As long as you have an ID and you’re registered to vote, that’s the only thing you need,” Graham said.
In Richland County, voters can cast ballots at one of five locations:
- Richland County Voter Registration & Elections Office: 2020 Hampton Street, Columbia, SC 29204
- (Richland Two’s) Institute Of Innovation: 763 Fashion Drive, Columbia, SC 29229
- Ballentine Community Center: 1053 Bird Road, Irmo, SC 29063
- Hopkins Park Adult Activity Center: 150 Hopkins Park, Hopkins, SC 29061
- Parklane Adult Activity Center: 7494 Parklane Road, Columbia, SC 29223
Voters can’t take a ballot home and mail it in during early voting.
If registered voters want to cast an absentee ballot, they must do it online or in person before Oct. 28; a ballot will be mailed to them.
Graham recommends going to scvotes.gov for more information about voting early or absentee.
The website, however, has been having problems this week because of high traffic.
The website also can tell residents where they vote on Election Day and which races are on their ballots.
ABOUT THE JOURNALISTS
Tippett is a multimedia journalist at the University of South Carolina. She plans to attend law school and practice media law. Tippett runs the sorority recruitment process at USC. She has written about voter registration and housing for the student-run Daily Gamecock. Tippett has worked with Midlands Gives, a community-wide day of giving that raises funds for Midlands nonprofits. Her work this year helped them raise more than $3.7 million.
Watts is a junior multimedia journalism major with a minor in applied computing. A noted skeptic, Watts spent five months on a long-form story about the history and cultural significance of paranormal research in South Carolina. She scoured through music archives, Great Depression era texts, and centuries of newsprint – debunking such myths as USC’s Third-Eye Man in the process. Watts also reports on outdoor recreation and environmental law. Watts plans on studying constitutional law upon graduation.