Record-breaking absentee voting in S.C., voting issues in York County

Updated: Oct. 19, 2020 at 5:19 PM EDT
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FORT MILL, S.C. (WBTV) -Early voting records across our country are being broken at historic rates. It is no different in WBTV’s South Carolina viewing area.

South Carolina’s election commission predicts one million South Carolinians will vote before Election Day.

In the 2016 presidential election, a little more than one million South Carolinians voted. If this trend continues, almost as many people will vote before the election as they did in the entire 2016 election in the Palmetto State.

Election officials say they expected big numbers, but not like this. About 67 percent of South Carolina voters who requested an absentee ballot have already voted. That is more than 400,000 people.

Compare that to the 2016 presidential election where only about 114,000 voted absentee. A big reason for this is everyone being able to vote absentee.

Here in York County, more than three-quarters of those who put in an absentee application have already voted. An election official in the county says most of the people she has talked to have voted absentee for the first time.

However, record-breaking can lead to some mistakes and delays.

There are a couple of issues with absentee ballots in York County.

“It’s just a mess overall," said Kevin Hawver, who has been waiting for his absentee ballot for two weeks now.

His wife was in the same situation. She got hers delivered last Wednesday, but still nothing for him.

He feels time is ticking away for him to get his ballot and turn it in on time.

“It makes it a difficult choice on how to proceed because I might have to go in person and that’s what I’m tried to avoid," Hawver said.

Now he is facing the tough decision—wait it out or risk it.

“That’s just the thing—risking it," Hawver said. “You know touching screens and having to touch buttons after numerous people,” he explains. “You know waiting in line for who knows how long.”

“Sometimes mail isn’t delivered as quickly as we’d like it to be," said York County Voting and Registration’s Beth Covington.

Covington said USPS warned it could take seven to 10 days to get a ballot. She said if the ballot tracker says the ballot was sent October 5, but it has not been received, a person should call to request another.

“We need to know there’s an issue so we can help them make sure their ballot is cast and counted," said Covington.

Delayed ballots are not the only absentee ballot issue York County is facing.

Covington said a small percent of ballots were sent out with the wrong return zip code, but could not tell how many.

“We are aware," she said. "Unfortunately there was a mistake made.”

Covington said the ballot itself is fine, just not the outside envelope, but they have already covered their bases with the Charlotte post office. The post office is going to look for the ballots and send them through to York County.

“They are working with us to make sure these votes will be in our office and will be counted on election day," Covington said.

Now, even if someone gets two ballots, only one will be counted.

Covington said the voting system will not allow two ballots even if you turn both in.

Also, anyone concerned about requesting a new ballot could keep it from getting counted in time, Covington suggests dropping it off at an absentee voting location.

We’ve got great voter resources on the WBTV News app. Once you download the app – find the voter guide section!

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