Charleston County election officials expect absentee voting to pick up
More than 1,300 voters dropped by Charleston County’s precinct at Leeds and Azalea avenues in North Charleston to cast absentee votes Friday, and election officials expect the pace will pick up until Nov. 6.
Voters may vote absentee by calling or emailing to request an absentee ballot or by showing up in person.
A voter must have either a voter registration card, a South Carolina driver’s license or a photo ID issued by the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles to cast a ballot.
Here are the county locations and times for absentee voting:
Berkeley: 6 Belt Drive in Moncks Corner; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; 719-4056 (Moncks Corner) or 723-3800, ext. 4056
Charleston: 3691 Leeds Ave., corner of Leeds and Azalea Avenue, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (and today from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.); 744-8683
Dorchester: 201 Johnston St. in St. George (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.); 563-0132; and 500 Main St. in Summerville, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 832-0071
“We expect the numbers to keep going up by 100 or 200 every day,” Elections and Voter Registration Director Joe Debney said, adding that the number eventually may level out. “It will be interesting to see.”
Charleston already leads the state’s 46 counties in terms of absentee ballots requested, and the state is on track to break its record for absentee voting set four years ago, State Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said this week.
As of Friday afternoon, 9,362 voters had cast ballots in person at the county’s absentee precinct, while another 14,872 had requested absentee ballots to be mailed to them, Debney said.
Berkeley County also has seen an uptick in absentee voting this week, Elections and Voter Registration Director Wanda Farley said.
And Dorchester County opened its second absentee precinct this week in Summerville, in addition to its original one in St. George, to handle the expected surge in voting and to minimize any long waits.
Across the state, voters have requested 214,400 absentee ballots as of Wednesday, 25,200 more than voters had requested by Oct. 22, 2008, Whitmire said.
South Carolina does not have early voting per se, but state law allows voters to cast their absentee ballots early if they are older than 65; are working on Election Day and will be unable to vote; plan to be out of town or in the hospital on Election Day; and several other reasons.
Debney said more than 6,600 Charleston County voters already have shown up in person to vote absentee, an indication that turnout might be as heavy as in the record-breaking year of 2008, when the county saw about 17,000 in-person absentee votes and about 36,000 absentee votes.
However, Debney said the county has expanded the size of its absentee precinct, so the lines to vote are minimal, just a few minutes at worst.
Farley also said Berkeley isn’t seeing the long lines and one- to two-hour waits that it saw four years ago.
Voters may cast absentee ballots in person or ask their county election office to send them one via mail, email or fax. All absentee ballots must be received back by 7 p.m. on Nov. 6.
Four years ago, more than 342,000 South Carolina voters cast absentee ballots, 18 percent of all votes cast. During the previous presidential race, absentee voting in the state was only 10 percent.