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South Carolina likely to set record for mailed absentee ballots

The joint Sioux Falls election and Minnehaha County primary is June 2nd
The joint Sioux Falls election and Minnehaha County primary is June 2nd(KSFY)
Published: May. 25, 2020 at 6:30 AM EDT
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Monday, May 25, 2020

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina’s decision to allow absentee voting by mail for anyone in next month’s primaries because of the coronavirus could mean a long night waiting for results.

With more than two weeks to go before the primaries, the state had already mailed out 72,000 absentee ballots, which take longer to process and count than in-person votes at the polls, according to figures Friday from the South Carolina Election Commission.

About 160,000 voters have requested applications for absentee ballots for the June 9 primaries, election officials said.

The record for mailed-in ballots was nearly 140,000 in the 2016 general election where 2.1 million people voted.

All indications are the June 9 primaries will surpass that total for mail-in ballots, and they will be a much bigger percentage of the total vote.

In June 2016, the most recent primaries similar to this year’s without a governor’s race, less than 418,000 people voted.

People who vote by mail seal their ballot in an inner envelope that then goes into a second outer envelope to mail. The same new law that allowed people to vote absentee by mail for these primaries because of the pandemic also lets county election officials to open that outer envelope the day before the election, state Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said.

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