After more than half of all registered Charleston County voters cast ballots before election day, many polling places only saw light traffic on Tuesday.
Some voters lined up early Tuesday before the polls opened at 7 a.m., with social-distanced lines stretching through parking lots and down sidewalks. But after initial lines died down, City Paper staff reported lighter crowds at precincts downtown and in Mount Pleasant, West Ashley and North Charleston.
Official numbers are not yet available from county election officials.
But even light election day turnout comes in addition to 52.7% of Charleston County voters who have already cast ballots. The 162,410 absentee ballots reported by the state Election Commission in Charleston as of 7 p.m. Tuesday is roughly 90% of the 2016 general election total of 178,249 ballots cast, when turnout was 64.34%.
Statewide, 1.32 million South Carolina voters cast ballots in person or by mail before Tuesday, according to the Election Commission. Total turnout in 2016 was 2.1 million votes.
Absentee turnout was not as high in Berkeley County, where 57,245 absentee ballots returned as of 7 p.m. accounted for about 40% turnout. Roughly 63% of Berkeley voters cast ballots in 2016. Dorchester County tallied 46,983 absentee ballots this year, about 41.7% turnout. More than 68% of Dorchester voters turned out in 2016.
In Dorchester County, election officials said Tuesday that about 13,500 mail-in ballots won’t be included in initial counts because of a “printing error.” That reporting lag could impact close local elections and the hotly contested 1st Congressional District race between U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham and Republican state Rep. Nancy Mace.
County election workers began recording votes from absentee ballots today, but Charleston officials have been warning for weeks that it may take some time before full results are available.