Pee Dee preps for the GOP primaries

FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Despite budget cuts, the Florence County Election Commission Director says preparation for the election is running smoothly, but there is still much to be done for Saturday's primaries.

While GOP candidates are making their last pitch for the vote, people in the Pee Dee are preparing for Saturday's primaries.

Florence County has struggled to find funding to host the event since the state GOP backed out of their promise to help.

"I think people are really clueless as to how it all operates, unless you've worked here or volunteered, there's a lot that goes into it," said Florence County Election Commission Clerk, Barbara Godwin.

Prepping 64 precincts is not an easy task. 64 voting machines need to be accounted for, each with batteries and data tapes.

"64 different bags that contain anywhere from five to eight to ten different items to go each voting location," said Godwin.

And 64 check lists marked off for materials needed at each precinct.

"We check, and then we double check, and we triple check," said Godwin.

The Florence County Election Commission depends on volunteers to help with the preparations, scanning ID numbers and matching the right machines and materials to the right locations.

And even they were surprised about the tedious preparations.

"We've been doing this for hours, so far," said volunteer Amanda Ray from Timmonsville. She was looking through, what looked like a never-ending, pile of paperwork.

"I never knew that this it what it would be like," she said.

The Florence County Election Commission also received help from Verizon Wireless. A local store donated some phones that will allow precinct clerk's to communicate with election director's during Saturday's election.

"Our phones at the office are always ringing off the hook and busy during election days and this will allow us to have better communication with the precinct clerks if there is an emergency or issue," said Godwin.

But the prep isn't only about the checks and balances, the voting machines and equipment need testing before the trip to the precincts.

"The pre-election test procedures is test, test, test. What we do is clear out all of the information on all of our equipment from a prior election, just like erasing a chalk board," said Florence County Election Commission Director, David Alford.

Then the machines are randomly tested, with the same voting selection and cleared again. The commission director says, at the local level, they cannot alter the software on the voting machines.

He says it is a national software program that is used, matched with the information and database from each county.

"We do not program anything, people use that as a misnomer but there is no programming done at the local level," said Alford.

With some GOP candidates dropping from the race at the last minute, the commission director says some voters may be confused when they see those candidates still on the ballots.

"It is possible for people to vote for candidates that might have stepped aside, their names are gonna be on the ballot, they've paid their filing fee to have their names put on the ballot," said Alford.

If any issues come up on Saturday, Alford says they're prepared.

Thousands of paper ballots have been printed ahead of time and will be available at all of the voting locations.

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