‘No excuse early voting’ brings thousands to the polls in South Carolina

YORK COUNTY, S.C. — South Carolina’s first general election with in-person, early voting has resulted in thousands of area voters casting their ballots before election day.

Between when polls opened on Monday and the most recent count on Thursday, 5,200 people voted in York County, about 3% of registered voters. Another 5,400, about 7% of registered voters, have already cast ballots in Lancaster County.

Fort Mill teacher Karen Hood told Channel 9′s Tina Terry she wasted no time to vote in the midterm election. She’s hoping to make her voice known on education issues and hopes others will do the same.

“This election is very big, especially for education, right now,” Hood said. “Please vote, there’s a lot between school board and state education.”

With this being the first year of “no excuse, early voting,” the impact on voter turnout remains to be seen, but some experts think it could be substantial.

“I think it’s going to make a difference and more people will vote in person now than the 2018 election,” said Scott Huffmon, a political science professor at Winthrop University.

The two weeks of early voting ends on Saturday, Nov. 5. Election day is Nov. 8.

More information on early voting locations in South Carolina can be found here.

Changes to voting this year in South Carolina

Rodney Dunlap is use to voting early.

“I’m a truck driver. So, I’m on the road, back and forth,” he said. “So, I try to get in early so I can exercise my rights.”

But in the past, he had to give a reason for wanting to cast his ballot before election day.

“They come in and asked me why I needed to vote and I’ll tell them. They say ‘OK, no problem,’” Dunlap said.

Now, early voters in South Carolina don’t have to give a reason. It’s part of “no excuse early voting,” which is legislation that passed this year. Voters who Channel 9′s Almiya White spoke with are all for it.

“It’s better for everyone because it’s a win,” Dunlap said. “You know, those that want to get out and vote. Now, they don’t have an excuse not to come.”

“Sometimes it’s just convenience, or you just don’t want to say why you can’t come at the normal time,” said Sally Dickson, another voter. “So, to have this option, I think we’ll have more people voting, which is what we want.”

Voters are seeing another change this year: Voting more than once is now a felony in South Carolina. Todd Puhrmann oversees the Fort Mill Community Center voting precinct. He says violators could face $5,000 in fines up and up to five years in jail.

“If someone comes in here and votes early and then goes to their precinct on election day to vote a second time, the system already knows that they were issued an early ballot,” Puhrmann said.

If you requested an absentee ballot, you can drop your ballot off at any of the three voting sites. On election day, you can only drop your ballot off at the York County voting registration and elections office.

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