Voters wait hours to cast absentee ballots

Voters waiting in line Monday

By Eric

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCIV) -- Voting lines arrived a day early in Charleston County.

Hours of waiting to cast an absentee ballot was the norm Monday in North Charleston. The long waits were topped only by the long lines of voters standing outside the Leeds Avenue voting headquarters.

The first line was the wait in a long line of cars to park. The next one forced voters to stand for hours as they waited to vote absentee.

"I would say it's a good two and a half hours for people coming in now," said Michael Schwarzott.

For much of Monday, people snaked around the county's lone absentee polling station.

"I think they should have more than one spot for early voting by all means, especially with one spot for the whole Charleston County," said Ben Holt.

The public appeared patient, but not without a little frustration underneath the surface.

"Knowing that you're anticipating a large crowd, you should have more than just this one set up," Leroy Lewis said. "Convenience for the public is something that ensures the democratic process."

By law, these voters needed an excuse or a reason why they can't vote on Election Day, in order to file the absentee ballot. Before Monday, 19,000 people voted absentee, after all they've had since Oct. 8 to do so.

"Until Friday of last week, peoples' waits were only 15 to 20 minutes long, we actually tripled our staff in the elections office," said Charleston County Elections Director, Joe Debney. "This is what we've been doing, we've been planning for this particular election, we talked to the sheriff's office months ago, about how we would deal with traffic."

Deputies were visibly helping with traffic control. Likewise, a second or third polling place has been discussed, just not decided on, officials said.

Either way, for an election of this magnitude, voters could agree their wait was worth it.

"I've got to do it, got to do it, I have no choice," Holt said.

"Voter participation drives the process," said Lewis.

To vote in Charleston County on Election Day, simply bring your South Carolina voter registration card, a valid driver's license or a state issued ID.