Record number of South Carolinians cast their ballots on the first day of early voting

Watch WIS News 10 at 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 7:15 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - On the first day of early voting for the general election, a record 42,423 South Carolinians cast their ballots.

This mark nearly doubled the previous single-day record for early voting set in June during the primaries.

State election officials expect the boom to continue through the two-week early voting period.

“I think yesterday was an unqualified success as far as the number of people we saw voting early,” Chris Whitmire, the South Carolina Election Commission spokesperson, said.

Officials with the state election commission said they expected turnout to be high, but Monday’s total surpassed their expectations.

If these trends hold, as many as 40 percent of all votes could be cast during the early voting period.

“I think that’s just a testament to early voting,” Whitmire said. “I think people and voters want that. They want more opportunity. Everyone’s busy, have busy lives, jobs, kids, families, other responsibilities that they need to take care of, and I think you see that with people taking advantage of early voting in droves is that, ‘Hey, we want more options than just the 12 hours on election day.’”

State lawmakers changed South Carolina’s election laws in May, giving people the option to vote early in-person in statewide elections without needing an excuse to do so, as they previously did.

Horry County outpaced all of South Carolina’s 46 counties on the first day of early voting in terms of turnout.

4,686 voters cast their ballots in Horry County Monday, followed by Charleston (4,525), Greenville (3,338), Richland (3,050), and Spartanburg (2,046) counties.

With the exception of Spartanburg County, each of the other four counties have at least 5 early voting locations open.

Richland County has five early voting locations.

On Monday, 794 people voted at the Richland 2 Institute of Innovation, followed by the Parklane Adult Activity Center (713), the County Voter Registration and Elections Office (645), the Ballentine Community Center (571), and the Hopkins Park Adult Activity Center (327).

According to Whitmire, one reason why officials expect higher turnout for this early voting period is because counties have had more time to stand up additional voting locations.

Election administrators only had a few weeks to prepare for the primaries after the new law passed in May.

There were 85 early voting locations statewide in June. For the general election, there are 115.

“As you add locations, it becomes more convenient for more people, and that will increase the numbers because people see it as more advantageous to their schedule and to their day to vote early,” Whitmire said.

State election officials say expanding early voting access takes pressure off election administrators.

“We don’t want them to get burnout,” Stacy Williams, a Richland County voter, said. “It’s important that they are provided all the resources that they need to be able to make this run smoothly and hopefully within the next few election cycles this will be a well-oiled machine for us.”

Richland County voters who cast their ballots Monday told WIS that the convenience of early voting appeals to them.

“Time is something that comes and goes,” Williams said. “Having everything on one day and something at work could happen, a family crisis could happen, so many things can happen to prevent you from voting. So when you have the time and if you can do it early, I think it’s great to take advantage of it.”

Some said they have waited as long as four hours on Election Day in the past.

“The lines were too long, persons were falling out, thirsty, there were elderly persons who were sick,” Ruby Thomas, a Richland County voter, said. “So it gives you an opportunity to be able to do the right thing and it’s good for persons to be able to participate.”

The state election commission also provided an update on what took down its website, scvotes.gov, on Monday.

The website crashed before 9 A.M. and worked sporadically throughout the day.

Officials had been working to determine whether the site crashed due to natural high traffic, or as the result of a Distributed Denial-of-Service, or DDoS, attack.

According to Whitmire, state election officials, working with the FBI, the United States Department of Homeland Security, and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, found that there was no evidence of malicious activity behind the site crash.

The election commission had moved the site to a new server a few months ago, and it was not optimized to handle all the increased traffic.

“We feel confident that the proper settings and optimization are now in place to ensure the website’s available into the future,” Whitmire said.

Early voting locations in the Midlands can be found here.

Notice a spelling or grammar error in this article? Click or tap here to report it. Please include the article's headline.

Stay up to date with WIS News 10. Get the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and Stream us on Roku, YouTube, Amazon Fire, or Apple TV.