Absentee voters face long lines as Richland Co. satellite voting locations open

Absentee voters face long lines as Richland Co. satellite voting locations open

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Five more in-person absentee voting locations opened in Richland County on Wednesday.

But even with the added options of places for people to vote, many faced long lines as the system struggled.

Richland County election officials said voting machines were working, but they were having issues connecting new equipment to the State Election Commission’s voter registration system.

“We did have a few glitches to work out this morning,” said Richland County Director of Voter Registration & Elections Alexandria Stephens. “There’s been quite a few new pieces of equipment implemented, so we just had to work out a few glitches. We got the SEC on it, our technicians on it, our IT department on it.”

The State Election Commission later said their statewide system was not down, but there were local connection issues at two voting locations in Richland County -- North Springs Park and Garners Ferry Adult Activity Center.

The issue was resolved before 9:30 a.m., an hour after the scheduled opening, but voters say lines at North Springs Park were still wrapped around the sidewalk and into a field.

“People were complaining, and several people left,” explained Richland County voter Margaret Ringgold, who was determined to wait nearly four hours to cast her vote. “For my children and my grandchildren, it’s worth the wait,” she said.

Many other voters said they expected to wait and packed chairs, coolers, and umbrellas to beat the heat.

“We came here on a positive note to make it happen,” said Everett, another county voter. “I mean, there’s no sense of coming here and being negative. We know we have a job to do, and we came here to do it.”

Stephens added that she doesn’t think the issue had to do with a lack of poll workers or training, saying the county has recruited plenty of poll workers for these satellite locations. She said they’re also conducting trainings this week through the end of October.

Just at the Voter Registration Office Monday, Stephens said there were nearly 800 votes cast. Tuesday, she said there around 820, and Wednesday, she’s anticipating even more.

“It’s going to be a huge turnout. It will definitely be a huge turnout,” said Stephens.

You can vote absentee in-person at any of the county’s six locations Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. through November 2. The Richland County Voter Registration Office will also be open the last two Saturdays of October from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Copyright 2020 WIS. All rights reserved.