Absentee voting numbers rise from 2008

by: Greg Suskin Updated:

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SOUTH CAROLINA —

Lines stretched out the door in York and in Rock Hill on Monday. More than 21,000 people had voted in York County by late in the day.

That's a record. By contrast, 16,500 voted absentee in 2008.

"I have to work and I have a child so I wanted to make sure I had the chance to cast my vote," said Miriam Gibson, who voted days ago.

Voters told Channel 9 that they wanted to avoid the long lines expected in the morning on Election Day.

South Carolina doesn't offer early voting like North Carolina does, but absentee voting rules are so broad, it's almost the same thing.

"Most people can qualify for it," said Wanda Hemphill, York County board of elections director.

In order to qualify to vote absentee, someone must meet one of 17 requirements. It could be vacation plans on Election Day, military service, work or travel conflicts, age, and many others. Someone over 65 for example, can always vote absentee.

As to why York County's absentee voting numbers are dramatically rising, Hemphill said having Charlotte nearby is a big reason, because of North Carolina's early voting.

"Being in the Charlotte media market, a lot of people hear that across the border, and that translates to higher absentee voting for us," she said.

York County poll workers will staff 89 precincts Tuesday morning when polls open at 7 a.m. However, thanks to record absentee voting, roughly 15 percent of registered voters have already cast a ballot.

"Their lives are so busy, and the convenience of it just makes it easier," Gibson said.