South Carolina’s first day of absentee voting brought ‘unprecedented’ lines

In-person absentee voting starts today in S.C.

YORK, S.C. (WBTV) - Lines of people were wrapped around the York County Government Building waiting to absentee vote in-person.

Monday was the first day for it in South Carolina and some people say they waited over an hour.

Absentee voting didn’t start until 8 a.m., but people were lining up in York at 7 a.m. just to get in line early. A few people say they were willing to wait seven hours if it meant being able to vote.

The government center is the only absentee in-person voting location in York County for the entire week.

Fort Mill Community Center and Rock Hill Operation Center will both open next week. Any voter coming down to an absentee location needs to bring photo ID. Applications will be there to fill out.

Times at the polling locations vary.

The York County Government Center is open Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays, starting on Oct. 17, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Fort Mill Community Center and Rock Hill Operation Center are open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

However, twice a week starting Monday Oct. 19, those two locations are open three more hours, closing at 7 p.m.

There are some absentee locations that are only for dropping off ballots. The Indian Land Service Center in Lancaster is one of those places. Make sure to check before going.

At most, people say they waited an hour to vote. Even those who have been here before never expected the wait.

“Oh it’s much longer. Much much longer," says one voter, who waited in line for 55 minutes.

The reasons people waited in line varied just like the voters. Some were ready to get their vote out of the way.

“We want our voice to be heard," says another voter. "And the sooner we can do that the better it is.”

Others wanted to vote absentee, but did not trust the mail to get their vote in house in time.

“So much controversy about the votes being counted and not counted I needed to get out here in person and vote. It was worth the wait," says one person who mailed in her application but came in person.

There were first timers too. Those voters are using the state of emergency. which gave every registered South Carolinian a chance to vote absentee.

“Oh I absolutely love it," says one person voting absentee for the first time. “It gives everyone different options so I like that for sure.”

“It was a little different. I didn’t expect so many people here but I didn’t really know much about it," says another using the state of emergency to vote early.

Voters with different reasons for waiting still had one thing in common - being safe during the pandemic.

Most wore masks and social distancing made lines longer. Once inside, a sense of relief washed over voters seeing poll workers outfitted with personal protective equipment like masks and gloves.

“I’m fine," says one voter who watched extra hard for safety. "I think they’re following everything as best they can. It’s a lot of people.”

Lancaster County had some lines at the administration building as well early this morning. The county administrator says the first day brought more voters than expected there too.

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