‘I’m not really worried about anything’: Richland Co. Elections Director confident about Election Day

Updated: Oct. 25, 2020 at 6:14 PM EDT
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RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - Richland County has developed a reputation for Election Day troubles, but despite the pandemic, the new Elections Director for Richland County is confident Tuesday, Nov. 3 will go smoothly.

“I’m going to go out on a limb here and say I’m not worried really about anything,” Alexandria Stephens, the county’s newest Elections Director, said. “I feel like we are really, really prepared.”

During the June primaries, Richland County voters experienced long wait times, confusion surrounding polling locations, and stood in winding lines outside to vote. Stephens said her team has taken steps to make sure that does not happen again.

Stephens said she has confirmed all the planned polling locations are still willing to be open to voters on Election Day, and the county has already started sending elections equipment to them.

Therefore, she is not expecting any last-minute locations to need to be combined.

Stephens also said the high interest in absentee voting will reduce the number of people who will come out to vote in person on Election Day.

As of Monday, almost 30% of registered Richland County voters have already submitted their ballot, Stephens said.

“The number of registered voters is not decreasing, the number of eligible to vote on Election Day is decreasing because of the high turnout of absentee,” she said. “I’m excited people are coming out early to get it out of the way. I feel that will decrease wait times significantly on Election Day at the polls.”

In case there is a last-minute surge in voters, or some poll workers need to drop out, Stephens says she has 500 trained volunteers ready to help if they’re needed.

While there were previously delays for people receiving their absentee-by-mail ballot, Stephens said they are no longer experiencing widespread delays.

However, she said if someone who has requested an absentee ballot still hasn’t received it, they are encouraged to vote in-person if they are able.

Stephens said she has been told wait times in Richland County for in-person absentee voting can vary from 45 minutes to an hour, but the lowest wait times are often around lunchtime from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Elections Director also said she believes Richland County will be able to announce some results on Election Day.

“We are making every effort to have it done by Election Day, so I’m going to say yes [we will have results on Election Day]. As for nationwide, I’m going to say no,” she said.

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