Increase in absentee ballots because of COVID-19 could delay some results in June primary

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Marty Goetz, right, and Diane White, prepare the voting screens as they start to set up a polling place Monday, June 1, 2020, for the voting for Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primary in Jackson Township near Zelienople, Pa. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- The June primary is this upcoming Tuesday and the election commission is already seeing record breaking numbers of absentee voting numbers.

South Carolina lawmakers passed legislation in their brief return to the State House to expand absentee voting; a change that could cause some delays​.

State lawmakers expanded absentee voting to all voters in the state. It’s an effort to decrease crowds at the polls.

“I had concerns about voters not being able to engage in social distancing at the polls and number 2 there were concerns about poll workers who are generally more elderly,” explained Senator Chip Campsen.

More than 120,000 mail in absentee ballots have been cast for the June primary. Lawmakers passed a bill allowing poll managers to open those ballots before election day. However, delays in results are still expected. ​

“Counties have changed their processes, the number of people they have scanning, and the number of scanners. So some counties may be able to get them processed in time. It just depends on the local situation. It could take them longer and even into the next day,” said Chris Whitmire with SC Election Commission.

Also new this year, poll workers will wear face masks and sanitation measures will be increased. Several polling locations have also changed.

Whitmire continued, “Either you don’t have use of the facility this year because of COVID-19. They said no. We’re not doing that this year and there’s a shortage of polling managers.” ​

Even though poll workers can open those ballots a day earlier, those ballots cannot be scanned until election day. ​

If you’re not familiar with the mail in ballot, it comes in two envelopes​. Poll workers will be able to open the mailing envelope on Monday, eliminating a step that would usually be done on election day.

Mail-in absentee ballots are a 3-step process. First, the mailing envelope is opened and removed. Then, the ballot envelope is opened. Finally, the ballot itself is removed and scanned.

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