COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - As voters prepare to head to the polls for Tuesday's primaries, the State Election Commission (SEC) wants voters to be aware of some of the changes you can expect.
A record number of people have already voted absentee for Tuesday's statewide primaries. The SEC has sent out 182,000 ballots, breaking the state’s previous record of 60,000 absentee ballots. Out of those 182,000 absentee ballots, 40,000 had not been submitted as of Monday morning. “There are a lot of people out there who still have ballots, and we want them to know they need to get those back to their county voter registration office by 7 pm Tuesday. They’ve got to be there by 7 pm to count," said Election Commission spokesman, Chris Whitmire.
Due to COVID-19, South Carolina is experiencing a shortage of poll workers, and several polling locations have closed. “250 polling places have moved throughout the state. That’s out of about 2,200, so from a statewide perspective that’s a little more than ten percent of the polling places," Whitmire explained. Richland County has seen the largest number of changes.
Monday, the line at the Richland County Voter Registration Office stretched down the sidewalk for most of the day. Some people waited more than 45 minutes to submit their ballot. “We were not going to let this pandemic stop us from voting and exercising our rights," said Richland County voter, Josetta Ellerbe.
When you arrive at your polling location tomorrow, social distancing measures will be in place. Pieces of tape on the ground and signs will show where you should stand while you wait to cast your vote. The Election Commission is also asking that everyone wear a mask and bring your own pen. This is not a requirement, but a recommendation, and there will be sanitized pens available.
The Election Commission has also taken several new safety measures to protect both poll workers and voters.“We’ve supplied managers with masks, gloves, and face shields. There will be a sneeze guard at the check-in between you and the manager. We’ve provided cleaning supplies, alcohol wipes for the voting equipment, and sanitizing wipes for the tables and doorknobs," Whitmire explained.
Postcards have been sent to every household experiencing a polling place change, but Whitmire wants to remind voters to check your polling location before you head out to cast your vote.