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LIVE ELECTION 2020 UPDATES

Election Day: Greenville County still counting; absentees will take until early Wednesday

  • Updated

Post and Courier Greenville reporters visited polling sites throughout Greenville County on Tuesday, and are monitoring results from County Square as votes are counted. Check this story for updates.

On social media:

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County Square, 11:30 p.m.

At 11:30 p.m. Greenville County Elections Director Conway Belangia told The Post and Courier that his team is currently tabulating votes from all the county's roughly 91,000 absentee ballots.

Belangia sent the Election Day volunteers home but said his core staff are staying into Wednesday morning until the count is finished.

Each of the 25 thumb drives holding the absentee ballot data requires about five minutes to download.

"It's 24 or 25 thumb drives, and it takes a long time," Belangia said.

Belangia's staff will likely be counting well past midnight.

"They are all here," Belangia said. "But to have that many absentee votes, that's one-third of the votes in the county."

Fresh results were last posted at County Square for in-person voting at polling places at about 11 p.m. Results for about 120 precincts have not yet been posted.

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County Square, 8:40 p.m.

At 8:15, an election official opened the door to poll managers bringing their precinct kits to County Square. The kits contain all the materials needed to count ballots from each site. The precinct kits are processed five at a time.

About 20 precinct managers lined up outside Suite 400 at County Square waiting to have their kits processed containing votes from around Greenville County. All poll managers arrive wearing a lanyard from which hangs a thumb drive that has recorded all the votes at their respective precincts.

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County Square, 7:45 p.m.

Poll worker Bill Keener started taping precinct labels to the walls of Greenville’s County Square at 7:30 p.m. in anticipation of ballot boxes coming in. Some precincts were able to close at 7 p.m. where turnout was light after lunch. These precincts could start delivering their boxes to County Square as early as 8 p.m., election official Patty Roach said.

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Pleasant Valley community center, 6:30 p.m.

At the Pleasant Valley community center just outside Greenville, the polling place was all but empty at 6:30 p.m.

Thirteen poll workers received a voter every few minutes. But the rush had subsided hours earlier, around 12:30 p.m.

The precinct has 2,519 registered voters. About 750 had showed up in person to vote by 6:36 p.m. on Tuesday. Another 755 podcast ballots early — in person or by Mail-in. That brought turn out to just under 60 percent.

Pleasant Valley is a predominantly African-American neighborhood in Greenville County Councilman Ennis Fant‘s district. It is one of the oldest middle class Black communities in the Greenville area.

Kwantaveus Arnett, 21, cast his ballot at about 6:30 p.m. He said he was in the habit of voting because his parents have always urged him to.

He declined to say who he voted for on Tuesday. “I’d probably tell you later, but I’m not gonna tell you right now, “he said. “I am not really into politics or anything.”

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St. Matthew United Methodist Church, 4:50 p.m.

About 3,300 people had voted at St. Matthew United Methodist Church in Greenville as of 4:50 p.m., according to poll clerk Bruce Byford. That’s roughly 66 percent of voters in the precinct the polling location serves.

Byford said lines were long earlier in the day but have tapered off some as the afternoon has worn on. He expects things to pick up some as people get off of work.

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The Upstate, 4:30 p.m.

As Election Day in Greenville County and surrounding areas hits the home stretch, the early-morning lines with hour-plus wait times have dwindled to mere minutes.

Post and Courier reporters fanned out to polling precincts across the area, and social media reports from far and wide suggest that the mindset of being in line at the crack of down to avoid hours-long waits during early-voting gave way to voters discovering they could virtually walk up to the voting booth.

League Academy precinct afternoon

The League Academy precinct was virtually empty late afternoon on Election Day.

For instance, at League Academy where morning voting had been heavy, the precinct was almost empty at 4:15 p.m.

Greenville County Elections Director Conway Belangia said voting got off to a somewhat rocky start this morning but was running smoothly by midday.

Shortly after polls opened, he said, about half a dozen ballot scanners jammed up across the county’s 144 polling locations.

“It’s a big number, but in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t,” he said. “But anytime something like that comes up, it makes us rock and roll.”

He said that on several occasions there have also been issues with names not appearing in the state’s electronic records, but that the county is “working through those issues.”

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East North Street Academy, 12:52 p.m.

Election Lee Lawson

Lee Lawson voted at East North Street Academy.

Lee Lawson  breezed through the short line at East North Academy at about noon Tuesday, only to find out he was at the wrong polling place.

Undeterred, he left the Greenville school to head to the right location.

On his way to his car, he said his biggest priority is reenergizing the lagging economy and he believes Trump is the candidate who will do it.

“COVID is there, but I don’t think either party is going to do that much different other than perhaps shut the economy down if Biden gets into officer,” he said.

He said he also plans to vote for Graham, citing his experience and influence.

“I think he’s got a lot of power, a lot of pull, a lot of sway with other senators and can do a lot for the state of South Carolina,” he said.

East North Street Academy, 12:41

East North Academy precinct

By lunchtime, lines at East North Street Academy had dwindled from an hour-and-a-half wait in the morning to 5 minutes.

When polls opened at 7 a.m, the wait to vote at East North Academy in Greenville was about an hour and a half.

But lunchtime proved not to be a rush of voters.

By noon, the line had dwindled, with just a few people waiting outside and going inside within 5 minutes of arriving.

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Hunt Meadows in Anderson County, 12:30 p.m.

Just before lunchtime, voting in Anderson County's Hunt Meadows precinct was heavy with a line at least 150 voters deep and cars filling the parking lot and lining the roadside.

But after an hour, the lines have dwindled to about a 15 to 20 minute wait.

So far, a little more than 500 people have voted at the precinct.

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League Academy, 11:36 a.m.

Though Robert Gilstrap declined to say who he voted for Tuesday as he walked out of the League Academy polling place, he said he was a “professed conservative.”

One of the top issues on the 71-year-old’s mind as he cast his ballot was improving the national dialogue around racial issues and opening up economic resources to people to the Black community.

He said he believed people of color should have equal access to loans and resources supporting businesses, but said he believed there should be less emphasis on government-run programs.

“That equitable basis calls for a strong dialogue and a willingness to talk about variances in public viewpoint,” said Gilstrap, who is white. “If we don’t do that, then either side, Democrat or Republican, we’ve lost.”

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11:21 a.m., Sears Shelter

Judy and Robert Benedict of the Hampton-Pinckney neighborhood in Greenville cast their votes at 11 a.m. at the Sears shelter in McPherson Park near downtown Greenville on Tuesday. They were in and out in about five minutes. They’d heard about 90-minute lines early in the morning and so held off till mid-morning.

“It was so easy, Robert said.

“We had heard there were issues in other parts of the state,” Judy said. “Voter suppression.”

“This was very well organized,” Robert said.

The couple both cast their votes for Democrats Joe Biden for president and Jaime Harrison for U.S. Senate.

Robert said he hadn’t supported Trump in 2016 either, but that the president’s divisiveness and incoherent policies toward COVID-19 cemented his views in 2020.

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“And the lack of ethics in the president’s office,” Robert added.

“We need leadership, period,” Judy said.

The Benedicts said they have supported Graham in past elections. They said they admired his military record, leadership positions in the Senate and the track record of fiscal conservatism in the Republican Party.

The Benedicts both regard themselves as fiscal conservatives and are deeply worried about the deficit — something, they said, the Trump administration has worsened.

Robert said Graham’s support for confirming a Supreme Court Justice during an election year —a direct reversal of his position in 2016 — was also problematic. 

“He goes with the wind,” Robert said.

But it was Graham’s consistent support for the president that sealed his views on Graham.

“When Graham became such an advocate for Trump, he lost me,” Robert said.

Judy said Graham has gotten a lot of support from the Clemson community in the past because of his connections there. Graham grew up in Central next door. That is slipping, she said.

“Trump trumps Clemson,” she said.

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10:12 a.m., Phillis Wheatley Community Center

Election Day

Christy Ashkettle, who has recently become a US citizen and is voting for the first time, wears a Vote mask while standing in line waiting to vote at the Phillis Wheatley Community Center in Greenville Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Bart Boatwright/Special to The Post and Courier

Christy Ashkettle moved to the United States from South Africa about 11 years ago, and became a citizen in June.

On Tuesday, she waited in line at the Phillis Wheatley Community Center, eager to cast her vote for the first time.

“It’s a really important thing to vote and to do my civic duty,” she said.

Ashkettle said she plans to vote for Joe Biden, because she believes he will better represent women and minorities as president.

“I live in a predominantly Black area and I think that it’s important for people of color to have their voices heard and to not fear the government that they live under,” she said.

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9:58 a.m., Phillis Wheatley Community Center

New computers used to check people in at the polls and a large number of inexperienced poll workers have at times complicated voting at the Phillis Wheatley Community Center, according to poll Rhonda Young. On several occasions, workers have been unable to find voters names in the polling locations paper register or in the electronic records.

Young said she has sent more than one person to vote at County Square.

“That’s been a dilemma for us,” she said.

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9:16 a.m., Eastside Presbyterian Church

Election Day Greenville

A poll worker at Eastside Presbyterian Church helps a voter get out of his car and into the polling station on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

When polls opened at Eastside Presbyterian Church on Tuesday, poll workers were unable to use the check-in computers because of issues with the building’s power, according to Poll Clerk Stephen Rhodes. To keep the line moving, the voting location started using paper check in slips.

“It was not getting the power supply it needed, I think because we have so many machines plugged in,” Rhodes said. “So we had to move some cords.”

Poll workers were able to resolve the issue in within an hour, Rhodes said, and voting has gone smoothly since then.

Despite large crowds, the line has been moving quickly

***

8:56 a.m. (updated)

We are aware of some possible issues with power at the Eastside Presbyterian Church polling location. Reporter Conor Hughes is on the scene now.

Election Day Greenville

The live to vote wraps around the building at Eastside Presbyterian Church in Greenville County on Tuesday morning, Nov. 3, 2020.

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8:46 a.m., J.L. Mann High School

Election Day Greenville

Carol Smith said she voted against President Donald Trump rather than for Democratic nominee Joe Biden at J.L. Mann High School on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

After casting her ballot at J.L. Mann High School, Carol Smith said she more voted against Trump than for Biden.

“I want to be represented on the world stage by someone who’s representative of the entire country,” she said.

And while Smith said she previously supported Sen. Lindsey Graham, she voted for his opponent Jaime Harrison Tuesday morning. She said she couldn’t continue to vote for him after he went from one of Trump’s most vocal critics to one of his closest allies.

“He completely flipped on Trump,” she said.

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8:34 a.m., J.L. Mann High School

Election Day Greenville

Steve Hensley said he voted for the Republican candidates at J.L. Mann High School early Tuesday morning, Nov. 3, 2020. 

As Steve Hensley walked out of the polls at J.L. Mann High School on Tuesday morning, he said combatting socialism and improving the economy were top of mind when he cast his ballot.

“The actual freedoms we’ve had for many, many years, it seems like there’s a certain party that wants to take those away,” he said.

He said he voted for President Donald Trump because he believes his platform is more in line with the Constitution.

He said he also voted for Sen. Lindsey Graham. While he’s not a staunch supporter of South Carolina’s senior senator, he said he couldn’t vote for his challenger, for state Democratic Chairman Jaime Harrison.

“I feel like we’re bound to vote straight party,” he said. “I don’t like to do that, but seeing my other option, I couldn’t with a clear conscience do that.”

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8:22 a.m., J.L. Mann High School

Election Day Greenville

A line of voters stretches out the door at J.L. Mann High School in Greenville County around 8 a.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020.

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8:15 a.m.

If you are unsure where to vote in Greenville County, you can check your polling station here.

About a dozen polling locations have moved since the last general election due to COVID-19 issues.

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7:26 a.m., Robert E. Cashion Elementary School

Election Day Greenville

Jennifer McNell arrived at 5:30 a.m. at Robert E. Cashion Elementary School so she could vote and still make it to work at 8 a.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020.

Not far from the entrance of Robert E. Cashion Elementary, Jennifer McNell sat in a lawn chair she brought for the hours long wait. She was bundled in a thick coat, knit cap an scarf to ward off the cold of the early morning that had speckled the grass around the school with frost.

She arrived at 5:30 a.m., securing a spot just a few people away from the door, to make sure she’d be able to make it to work by 8 a.m.

“And I wanted to be one of the first ones to vote to make a changes,” she said.

McNell said she plans to vote for former Vice President Joe Biden.

“We have given Trump four years,” she said. “It’s time to make a change.”

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7:15 a.m., Robert E. Cashion Elementary

Election Day Greenville

Larry Grimsley said he voted for President Donald Trump in 2016 and plans to do the same this Election Day as he waited in line at Robert E. Cashion Elementary School on Nov. 3, 2020.

Shortly before the polls opened at Robert E. Cashion Elementary School in Greenville County, a line of voters stretched from the front doors, down the sidewalk and out of the parking lot. All the spaces in the lot were full, and cars were parked on the adjacent field.

Larry Grimsley said he arrived at 6:30 a.m. hoping to ahead get there ahead of the long line. But standing near the parking lot entrance, far from the school’s doors, he said that hadn’t gone as planned.

“I was expecting it, just not this long,” he said.

Grimsley said he voted for President Donald Trump in 2016 and plans to do the same this morning. He said the economy is his biggest concern, and he believes Trump is the stronger candidate on that front.

Conor Hughes, Ryan Gilchrest, Anna B. Mitchell, Nathaniel Cary and Eric Connor contributed.

Follow Ryan Gilchrest on Twitter at @ryangilchrest.

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