CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina voters should know by election night or the next day the results of the 2020 races, state Election Commission Spokesperson Chris Whitmire said.
“I wouldn’t envision anything that goes beyond the next day," Whitmire said when asked about counting mail-in absentee ballots. “Nothing certainly I envision that county election officials would be counting for days and days.”
More than 465,000 mail-in ballots have been issued statewide, and 350,000 have been returned, tripling the previous record set in 2016.
“That’s a big challenge. It takes longer for county election officials to count those ballots,” he said. “They have to open the exterior envelope, open the interior envelope, they’ve got to unfold that ballot, flatten it out and scan it.”
The process has been made easier this year. State lawmakers approved that county election officials can open the first envelope starting Nov. 1 and begin processing those votes on Election Day, Nov. 3, starting at 7 a.m.
Some counties will be done counting all of their ballots that night, he added, citing additional staff and extra equipment the state has funded and provided.
For all of those with mail-in ballots, Whitmire recommended mailing it by Tuesday, Oct. 27 or at the latest, Wednesday, Oct. 28. It has to be received by a county’s election office by 7 p.m. on Election Day.
“Every day that passes, there’s less time for that ballot to make it through the mail to your county election office by the deadline," he said.
A voter can also drop off their mail-in absentee ballot to their county’s election office through Election Day or vote in-person absentee through Monday, Nov. 2 at 5 p.m.
As of Oct. 26, about 560,000 voters cast a ballot in-person absentee, smashing the record set in 2016 of 370,000 who voted that way.
“It looks like it could be in the neighborhood of 1.2 million voters voting prior to Election Day. It could be more than that," Whitmire said. "That could mean that somewhere between 40 and 50-percent of the people that will vote in the election will have voted prior to Election Day.”
For those voting on Election Day, 70 polling locations have also been moved statewide. Visit scvotes.gov to see which ones have been affected and where your polling location is.
There’s also no longer a poll worker shortage statewide. More than 20,000 have stepped up and served, Whitmire said.