Long lines don't deter voters from casting absentee ballots

Published: Nov. 7, 2016 at 9:43 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 8, 2016 at 10:43 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - In Richland County, the last people to vote were in line as absentee voting ended at 5 p.m. on Monday. There had been long lines all day outside the Elections and Voter Registration Office in downtown Columbia and throughout Richland County.

"We came out and we saw the long line, but we want to vote," said Candace Chellew-Hodge. "We've moved about 16 feet in the last 20 minutes."

Some waited even longer.

"Just standing for two hours to vote," said Achu Mofor. "I mean, that's more than I anticipated."

We've seen record turnout across the country this year for absentee voting and on a local level, absentee voting has been trending upward in many counties here in South Carolina. At last check, more than 460,000 people have voted ahead of Tuesday's elections. In Richland County, officials say close to 53,000 votes were cast ahead of Election Day.

Many people we spoke with in Richland County were waiting in a long line, but they said me they are hoping to avoid potentially even longer lines Tuesday. Around noon and into early afternoon, the average wait time was about two hours.

There are more than a dozen reasons why someone can vote absentee. Some of those in line say it's because of work or childcare or they'll be out of town. Others wanted to beat the rush Tuesday.

"It was good. It was really good," voter Michael Downs said. "It was way quicker from years before when we waited four hours. Today we waited 1 hour 42 minutes and it was all prepared. We went to the line and got up there pretty quick and it was more expedited. Beautiful weather, nice day today."

That was more or less the sentiment among other voters. They say their right to vote is too important and they'll exercise that right no matter how long it takes.

Richland County Elections Director Samuel Selph believes voters will not see a repeat of 2012, where record turnout caused wait times at polling locations to spike. However, he said voters should expect longer lines depending on when they decide to go.

"That's what happens," Selph said. "It will happen in the morning. We will have a line during that period in time, but we'll work that line down."

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