SC election officials gear up for increase in absentee voters for June primaries

SC election officials gear up for increase in absentee voters for June primaries

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - State election officials say they are already preparing for a sharp increase in absentee voters in the June primaries.

Wednesday, Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill into law that would allow every registered voter in the state to vote absentee in person or by mail next month.

The State Election Commission said as of Wednesday afternoon they had received 100,000 requests for absentee ballots.

“Both in the 2016 and 2018 primaries we issued 60,000 absentee ballots statewide,” Chris Whitmire, a spokesman for the commission, said.

Whitmire said they are now sending high-speed ballot scanners to counties across the state.

Before this new law, voters could request an absentee ballot in the June primaries for 17 different reasons.

Now when filling out an absentee application voters can select “Reason 18 - State of Emergency” as their reason for voting absentee.

The League of Women Voters of South Carolina has been advocating for this change to protect voters and poll workers.

“This will greatly reduce congestion at polling places, which was projected to be a very serious problem this time around,” Lynn Teague said.

Lawmakers said in the summer or fall they’ll be able to address the November elections if needed.

“If we experience the same increase in absentee by mail ballots in November as we expect to have in June -- we’ll have to make some significant changes,” Whitmire said.

Copyright 2020 WIS. All rights reserved.