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Expect quick S.C. election results, no mask face-offs with poll workers

South Carolina election results are expected within the day after voting.
South Carolina election results are expected within the day after voting.(WRDW)
Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 7:39 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. - South Carolina voters should know by election night or the next day the results of the 2020 races, state Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said.

“I wouldn’t envision anything that goes beyond the next day,” Whitmire said when asked about counting mail-in absentee ballots. “Nothing certainly I envision that county election officials would be counting for days and days.”

More than 465,000 mail-in ballots have been issued statewide, and 350,000 have been returned, tripling the previous record set in 2016.

“That’s a big challenge. It takes longer for county election officials to count those ballots,” he said. “They have to open the exterior envelope, open the interior envelope, they’ve got to unfold that ballot, flatten it out and scan it.”

The process has been made easier this year. State lawmakers approved that county election officials can open the first envelope starting Nov. 1 and begin processing those votes on Election Day, Nov. 3, starting at 7 a.m.

Some counties will be done counting all of their ballots that night, he added, citing additional staff and extra equipment the state has funded and provided.

Meanwhile, Whitmire said South Carolina poll workers will not be enforcing any local mask ordinances during early voting or on Election Day.

He said poll workers are put in place to uphold election laws and ensure voters can perform their right to vote.

“We are not directing and poll managers are not directing poll workers to enforce any local mask ordinances. Now with all that said, we would like to make clear, the State Election Commission strongly encourages voters to wear masks. Our poll managers are going to be wearing masks and face shields and gloves and they’re doing that for the protection of voters,” Whitmire said

He added there’s no legislation requiring masks from the state level for voting.

Poll managers will not be able to turn anyone away for not wearing a mask.

“There’s no election law that wearing a mask is a prerequisite to vote. And poll managers are at poll managers to ensure that voters have the opportunity to vote and enforce and carry out state election law. So, poll managers, their job is not to enforce any local mask ordinances,” he said.

However, Whitmire is highly encouraging masks to be worn while voting, to keep people safe.

From reports by WCSC and WMBF.