Connectivity issues lead to long lines on final day of in-person absentee voting

Updated: Nov. 2, 2020 at 6:22 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The final day of in-person absentee voting got off to a slow start, as the State Election Commission says precincts across South Carolina experienced connectivity issues to the state’s voter registration website.

A spokesman for the Election Commission says the volume of people trying to access the website caused slow connection, but they were able to expand the site’s capacity and get things back up and running about an hour after the polls opened.

This still caused hours-long lines in Richland and Lexington counties. “He was ready to turn around, but I said no, we need to get it done. This is our only chance,” Lexington County voter Brenna Curry said.

At the Lexington County Administration Building, the line wrapped around the complex, as some voters say they waited up to five hours to cast their ballots. “We thought we wanted to beat the rush today, but obviously we’re going to be waiting in this line for a long time,” explained voter Roman Backhouse.

In Richland County, the Garner’s Ferry Adult Activity Center saw lines stretching down the driveway. “I was surprised there was as many people today because all weekend and all last week I saw it was the same thing down Sumter highway,” Daniel Sallings said. “I figured Monday would be a good day for me to get here and not stand in line, and that was not the case.”

One elderly Richland County voter, Doty Cheezem, says she had no choice but to come vote in-person. She says she sent in her absentee ballot on October 14th but went online to track it and says she confirmed with the county they never received it.

She was concerned about exposure to COVID-19 but says election officials told her voting in-person was the only way to make sure her vote is counted. “A lot of my friends carried their ballots to the Election Commission,” Cheezem said. “They told me to do that, and I said no, it will be fine, it’s three weeks, and nope.”

The State Election Commission says mailed in ballots not being received is not a widespread issue, but they say they have received phone calls from several people about their ballots getting lost.

Some voters say they were encouraged by the long lines. “Seeing the outpouring of people shows how important and impactful this year’s vote really is,” Curry explained. The majority say the biggest reason for packing the polls Monday is because of fear that the wait Tuesday could be even longer.

The State Election Commission wants to remind voters that on Monday, fewer than 100 polling locations were open for absentee in-person voting. On Election Day, they say around 2,300 polls will be open. They also want to let voters know internet connectivity will not be an issue because the state does not rely on the voter registration website on Election Day.

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