COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The South Carolina Democratic Party (SCDP) says it’s counted nearly 80,000 absentee ballots for this primary election.
That’s nearly 30,000 more ballots than in the 2016 presidential primary. That’s an indicator, party officials say, of a potentially record-high turnout for a presidential primary here in the Palmetto State.
The highest turnout for a South Carolina presidential primary was in 2008, when more than 500,000 votes were cast.
As of 11:30 p.m. Saturday, the Associated Press reported 526,743 votes in South Carolina, and a handful of precincts were still being counted.
This year, the SCDP says the state has had 600 campaign stops from presidential candidates. Officials believe the big focus on South Carolina has driven voter turnout.
SCDP officials fielded calls all day at three different locations across the state from voters reporting problems at the polls.
One of the biggest problems for voters was a change in their polling location. Party officials say several counties, including Lexington County, consolidated their polling locations. This is normal for presidential primaries and is done in an effort to save money. Officials say several voters showed up to their usual polling location, and it was not open because of this.
SCDP says there were a few problems with the new voting machines, but officials say all of the reported issues were quickly resolved.
They don't believe any of this affected voter turnout.
SCDP Executive Director, Jay Parmley, says the strong turnout for Joe Biden in the Palmetto State is significant as we move closer to selecting a candidate.
“I think we do represent at least the Democratic electorate in America, and I think it does give Joe Biden an edge moving forward, at least a bounce moving into Super Tuesday,” Parmley said. “I would say that South Carolina has a pretty good track record of selecting the nominee, and we’re proud of that and we look for that to continue.”
Party officials also say South Carolina is the most diverse of the early states to vote in a presidential primary.
They’re hopeful that strong voter turnout Saturday will lead to more voters heading to the polls in November.