As of 12:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, October 26, 2020, a total of 526,000 South Carolinians had voted in-person – obliterating the previous record of 370,000 set in 2016. Meanwhile, 339,000 registered voters in the Palmetto State had returned mail-in ballots – more than twice the previous record of 133,000, which was also set four years ago.
That’s a total of 865,000 early votes – a staggering 71.9 percent increase over the previous record.
A week ago, approximately 388,000 early votes had come in.
How high will these numbers go?
According to state election officials, a total of 988,000 early ballots have been issued – including 463,000 by mail. And while the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot by mail passed on October 24, in-person voting will continue over the next seven days.
Also, officials tell us based on the requests submitted they expect to clear the one million threshold on Monday afternoon.
“Will reach 1 million absentee ballots issued today!” one official told us.
Which reminds us: If you plan on voting absentee in-person, you must return your ballot to your local election office no later than 5:00 p.m. EST on November 2, 2020 – the day before the election.
When it’s all said and done, more than one million of South Carolina’s 3.48 million registered voters are likely to cast their votes prior to election day.
Is that a good thing?
Critics of voting-by-mail – including U.S. president Donald Trump – have argued the practice enhances the likelihood of voter fraud. And there is some evidence to support that contention. According to data from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), between 2012 and 2018 a staggering 28.3 million mail-in ballots were “unaccounted for.”
Earlier this year, in fact, we reported on South Carolina ballots (blank ones, thankfully) that were discovered … in Maryland.
“Assuming adequate safeguards are in place, we have no issue with mail-in voting,” we wrote earlier this year. “In fact, depending on the requirements imposed at the state level we believe it could actually wind up being more secure than in-person voting.”
Specifically, mail-in voting could conceivably provide a more definitive “paper trail” in the event electoral irregularities are alleged.
Again, though … that depends on the appropriate safeguards being put in place to protect the integrity of the process.
In South Carolina, mail-in voting requirements this election cycle were hardly robust.
The number of early ballots in America more than doubled from 24.9 million in 2004 to 57.2 million in 2016 – a total that has already been eclipsed in the current election cycle.
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