Lines long to vote absentee in Richland County - - Columbia, South Carolina

Lines long to vote absentee in Richland County

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Last week, voters stood outside in the rain to cast absentee ballots. If you look at the Richland County Voter Registration office on Harden Street, you will probably see a line just like the last one.

In fact, the line has gone from the registration office door up Harden Street and around the corner onto Hampton Street.

South Carolinians are ready for this election, but the question is: Can our voting system handle it?

Chris Hoffman came prepared for what would likely be a long wait to cast his absentee ballot. He was prepared, but not complaining.

"I think it's a responsibility as a citizen. I've always voted, I don't think I've ever missed an election. My parents raised me that way and I take it very seriously," Hoffman said.

Hoffman joined hundreds of others waiting in the chilly wind outside the Richland County Voter Registration office Tuesday afternoon.

Inside, workers continued to process the latest of the nearly 30,000 ballots already cast.

Elections Director Mike Cinnamon says so far the county's system has been up to the task.

"You never know what's going to arise Election Day. You hope that you've prepared for it by evaluating past elections and finding out the things that needed improvement. Hopefully we've made the improvements on that. We've added additional machines, more workers. So hopefully we're geared up and ready to go," Cinnamon said.

Heavy turnout for absentee voting has put added demands on county election offices statewide.

The State Election Commission says those offices have responded well and there's no reason to believe the state is any less ready. This is all despite a Brennan Center report suggesting South Carolina is among ten states that can't guarantee fair and accurate voting.

"That's not true. We can, we have. Our history shows that. These reports seek to undermine public confidence in the weeks leading up to an election and we think that's unfair," Chris Whitmire from the South Carolina Election Commission said.

Election experts say most voters will have to spend some time in line. For Jay Cooke, it took two hours.

"Yeah, it's an important election. For the next four years you know, we're going to have to have somebody in place that's going to be able to take care of the economy, foreign affars. All kinds of things. So I mean it's really important to make sure you vote for the right person and make sure your vote counts," Cooke said.

Cooke's 7-month-old son Jason didn't seem to mind either.

There are a few tips you should follow that will help the system move more smoothly if you either vote absentee or on Election Day.

  • Bring your voter ID card or a Driver's License.
  • Don't wear campaign buttons or clothing to your polling place.
  • Take a look at those constitutional amendments and figure out where you stand before you get into the voting booth.

Reported by Jack Kuenzie

Posted by Jeremy Turnage

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