Early voter turnout could mean shorter lines on Election Day but longer hours counting mail-in ballots

Updated: Nov. 2, 2020 at 11:18 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Monday marked the final day of early voting, with Election Day beginning at 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning. Many polling locations saw long lines, with people casting their votes in the final hours.

The South Carolina Election Commission said that it’s already been a record-breaking year with over 1.3 million South Carolinians voting before Election Day.

The South Carolina Election Commission said as of 5 p.m. when early voting ended, nearly 900,000 people had voted in-person absentee, and nearly 430,000 by mail.

Officials said that number is likely to increase slightly given the voters still standing in line at 5 p.m. and the absentee ballots that arrive at election offices before 7 p.m. tomorrow. It’s a turnout election officials are calling extraordinary.

“An amazing number that’s probably somewhere between half the total turnout,” Chris Whitmire, the spokesperson for the South Carolina Election Commission, said.

Whitmire said because of this Election Day might look a little different.

“It won’t look like a general election at the polls tomorrow, I don’t believe, because of the number of people voting before election day,” Whitmire said.

Whitmire said while it will probably help with the lines on election day, it does create some new challenges for county election offices, especially when it comes to opening and counting mail-in ballots.

“There’s still work to be done on that front, and the bulk of it has to be done tomorrow,” Whitmire said.

Whitmire said election offices were allowed to begin opening the outer envelope of the ballots on Sunday.

“Tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. they will begin opening the interior secrecy envelope, removing the ballots, flattening them out, and putting them through the scanner,” Whitmire said, “Remember, we’ve never done more than 133,000 of those statewide, and this year already 427,000 ballots returned.”

He said he thinks most counties will get done on Election Day, but it could take some a little longer.

“I expect some counties won’t be done on election night and will have to go into Wednesday to complete this process,” Whitmire said.

Absentee ballots must be received before 7 p.m. on Election Day to be counted. Whitmire said election results will become official on Friday when the county boards of voter registrations and elections certify the election results.

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