It is the last day to vote in the midterm elections, and polling places around Richland County have been almost empty.
David Edmond drove by multiple local precincts before casting his vote this morning.
“There were no lines, as far as I could tell,” Edmond says.
Short lines may be telling of today’s turnout in Richland County, but some of the same locations in the past week saw steady lines during the state’s early voting period.
This year, the state saw its first period of in-person, no excuse voting two weeks ahead of the midterms. John Catalano, the public information director for the South Carolina Election Commission, says it has taken a toll on today’s polls.
“It helps with the voter turnout being less today,” says Catalano. “We think the number of people that already had their ballots cast have really cut down long lines around the state.”
The SC Election Commission collected 561,636 ballots during the state’s early voting period. This morning, the agency counted 56,254 absentee ballots. But Catalano says early and absentee voting aren’t the only things causing low turnout at the polls today.
“This year, counties statewide opened up more locations than ever before,” Catalano says.
Because of this, Richland County poll workers say they’ve seen more people today than in recent years, despite the shorter lines. Meanwhile, voters like Edmond are less concerned about when people cast their ballots as opposed to how they use their vote.
“If you don’t come out, don’t say anything after polls close this evening,” Edmond says. “You just have to participate.”
Polls across the state will stay open until 7:00 PM. Even if you jump in line right when polls close, state election officials say you will still be able to vote.