UPDATE: The State newspaper in Columbia reports that, as of 11:30 a.m. Monday, more than 352,000 absentee votes have been cast in South Carolina. That would break the 2008 record of roughly 342,000 votes.
Near downtown Columbia, the absentee polls at Dreher High School have seen more than 40,000 people vote ahead of Tuesday’s election. Saturday afternoon, hundreds more stood in line there, some for three and a half hours. There was a steady line of voters in Conway Friday afternoon, as citizens drove from all over the Grand Strand to take advantage of the state’s version of early voting.
The state is on track to break the absentee voting records that were set in 2008.
South Carolina Radio Network reporters talked to dozens of people who were standing in line Friday and Saturday. Many of them said they would be working on election day or will be out of town. Some said that the hour that their employers give them is not enough time to get to the polls, stand in line, and then get back to work, especially if the turnout is heavy.
There is no state or federal law that mandates that workers be given time off to vote.
Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire says that based on what they saw in 2008, the voting numbers are likely to be strong.
Despite the wait in Columbia, attitudes were generally good. A frequent question: With absentee numbers being higher, why were there only three voting machines, and few locations?
Poll workers were busy at both locations, however, voters must fill out an absentee application in order to get a ballot, slowing down the process a bit.
We asked voters why they were voting absentee and what motivated them to vote in this election. Here are some of their answers:
AUDIO: Alton Thompson of Longs voted Obama last time, but… (:29)
AUDIO: Mack of Columbia was impressed with the turnout
AUDIO: Ben is stationed away from Columbia, able to vote in person this time
AUDIO: Lynnette Nichols of Myrtle Beach is motivated by Romney’s “47 percent” statement (:28)
AUDIO: Former Obama supporter Edward Dawsey, Jr. of Conway wants change (:23)
Kathy Andrews contributed to the report from the Grand Strand.