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Heightened interest in casting ballots early drew long lines to voting places in South Carolina on Monday, with some voters saying they came in person because they are concerned about the possibility of voter fraud or the U.S. Postal Service not delivering mail ballots on time.
Social media posts from voters in or around Greenville, Columbia and Charleston showed early voting lines snaking around public buildings and sometimes down the block.
Around noon in Berkeley County, about 110 people stood 6 feet apart in a line that extended the full length of the election commission’s office, an industrial building resembling a warehouse.
“It’s been this way since we opened at 9 a.m.,” said 19-year old Kayla Cook, a temporary poll worker. “Everyone has been polite and patient.”
John and Margaret Wilbanks, 70 and 73, were halfway to the entrance after waiting an hour and a half. Both were dubious of mail ballots and declined to say whom they planned to vote for.
“I know how difficult it is for postal workers with regular absentee ballots. This could be a catastrophe,” said John Wilbanks, a former postal clerk.
At the Richland County Office of Elections and Voter Registration, Shigehari Kobayashi had camped out overnight to be the first voter in line. Roughly 70 people had joined him in line by 8 a.m., 30 minutes before the polls opened.
“Everyone is masked, the spirit is light, people are joking around,” Kobayashi said. He reported the voting process went smoothly once the doors opened. He also declined to say whom he voted for.
“That’s our privilege as Americans, right?” he said.
More than 100 miles south, at the North Charleston Coliseum, a line of 112 people had formed by 7:45 a.m.
Hattie Fields, a 74-year old registered nurse who lives in downtown Charleston, said she chose to vote early for Biden because of her “concern about what might happen, all the hype about mail-in fraud.”
“I’m very interested in my vote counting. All the negativity, all the division going on, I’m very concerned about that,” she said.
A bit farther back in the line, Vernon and Donna Morris, 69 and 68, also expressed distrust of mail ballots.
“I don’t know what the Russian Senate is doing,” Vernon Morris quipped. When asked whom they are supporting, he said, “Well, the only two Americans on the ballot — Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris.”
Hunt, a freelance reporter, reported from South Carolina.