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'The numbers are just jaw-dropping' | Voters shattering records as deadlines loom for ballot requests

With 10 days still remaining before Election Day, South Carolina has already surpassed all of the ballots cast in advance of the election in 2016.

FORT MILL, S.C. — Record numbers of voters stood in long lines in the late October sun Thursday, eager to cast ballots early across York County.

Absentee voters are shattering records, putting South Carolina on track to surpass one million ballots cast before Election Day.

With still 10 days to go, SC has now surpassed 708,000 absentee ballots cast, eclipsing the record 503,000 absentee votes in the general election of 2016.

“The numbers are just jaw-dropping,” said Beth Covington, spokesperson for the York County elections office. “It’s amazing to see.”

In York County, they’ve opened two satellite offices in addition to the main elections office to meet the demand of voters casting ballots absentee this year.

Covington said they have had more than 52,000 requests for absentee ballots this year, compared to 30,500 in 2016.

“We were going ‘whoo! This is gonna be a ride!’” Covington laughed.

The largest increase both in York County and statewide has been in requests for absentee by mail ballots.

With an October 24 deadline looming to request an absentee ballot by mail, Covington said their office is encouraging more people to vote absentee in person.

“When we talk to the post office, they said it could take seven, 10, even 12 days,” Covington said. “That is pushing your limits a little bit.”

South Carolina lawmakers changed the law this year that expands the reasons why people can vote absentee. This year, voters are able to cite the pandemic as a reason to vote absentee, meaning everyone is now eligible to vote in advance of election day.

RELATED: SC governor signs absentee voting expansion bill

“A lot of people are taking advantage of that new rule and we love to see that,” Covington said.

The record-breaking election season has not been without issues.

A problem at the printer resulted in the incorrect zip code printed on the envelopes for a number of absentee ballots.

“We proofed our envelopes,” Covington said. “The printer transposed our zip code to return the ballots to us.”

Covington said they are working closely with the post offices to ensure that ballots with the wrong zip code still arrive at their offices in time. She said she feels confident the problem was rectified with enough time to receive all of the ballots with the incorrect zip code.

Voters we spoke to waiting in line at the satellite office in Fort Mill said there were too many factors that made them not want to vote in-person on election day, and also not trust voting by mail.

“I think there’s a lot of complications with voting this year,” said Richard who was pleased with only waiting 20 minutes to vote in person Thursday.  “The crowds and possibly long lines and possibly the virus all those things combined I figured if I could get here early and get it knocked out that’d probably be better.”

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