Florence election officials expect increase in absentee voters

Florence election officials expect increase in absentee voters

FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Election day is two weeks away and absentee voting is picking up in the Pee Dee, specifically at the Florence County Voter Registration and Elections Office.

It is the only location in the county for people to get an absentee vote in if they qualify.

It's been open the past two Saturdays for those who can't come during the week and David Alford, executive director of the office, said it's getting busier each day.

He explained if people have one of the sixteen qualifications of an absentee vote - being 65 or older, job-related reasons, being on vacation or serving on jury duty - they are allowed to cast a ballot before election day. It began on Oct. 10.

Alford said there are almost 6,000 absentee voters "in process" right now just in Florence County.

"We just keep the process as open and quick as possible for the voters in Florence County and make it as pleasant as possible," he said.

Tammy Hyman, one absentee voter, said she appreciates how the lines move move smoothly.

Alford added that the ballots for Florence County are easy to follow.

"We have no referendums or any items you have to read through and decide on the ballot. Everything is just straight candidates," he said. "The ballot itself ,once you are in front of it, you can pass through the ballot in a matter of 30 seconds or less, depending on how fast you want to do it."

The South Carolina Election Commission also just announced there is a 15 to 20 percent increase in absentee voting from the 2012 election to this year.

"In 2012, we voted over 13,000 people here in this office in person, and voted over 3,000 in mail," Alford said.

He added that he expects those numbers to rise this year.

On the Florence County ballot right now, in addition to the presidential candidates and statewide offices, there are the local municipalities like Florence and Lake City council elections and Florence School District Board seats.

The only county-wide office seat running opposed is the Florence County Sheriff.

"I think it really matters. Your future is at hand here," Hyman said. "You really need to get out and vote, whether or not you vote Democratic or Republican, you need to go out and vote."

Leading up to election day, absentee voters can cast ballots in Florence County Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to  5 p.m., and extended hours this Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 1p.m.

Alford reminds those who are voting on election day to expect lines to be long and give enough time to wait. Florence County precincts will have more than 600 trained poll workers the day of.

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