SUMTER, S.C. — Sumter County leaders have been preparing for an uptick in absentee voters due to COVID-19 and, on Monday, that's what they saw.
It was the first day of in-person absentee voting, and, at the start of the day, the line stretched through the voting area of the Sumter County Courthouse and down the sidewalk.
Dorothy Evans, a voter who waited, said she was surprised by the line, after voting absentee previously.
"When we were here before, we just walk on into the building, Evans said, "but, now, everybody's trying to vote, but, you know, that's a good thing."
Last month, state lawmakers gave all South Carolinians the choice to vote absentee due to the coronavirus.
Since then, election leaders like Pat Jefferson with Sumter County, say they've seen a spike in voters interested.
"They've been calling every day to find out when they will be voting absentee," Jefferson said. "They need the date, the time, which was given to them. So, we expected a crowd this morning."
They only allowed about 20 voters into the building at once, according to Jefferson. Voters were also required to wear masks and have their temperatures taken before coming inside.
Lenora Winkler, a first time voter, left the courthouse with her mask on and an 'I Voted' sticker pressed to her shirt.
"The United States and the world is in a turmoil, right now," Winkley said. "We have to get back right and stop fighting each other and just learn to get along 'cause we all are God's children."
The Sumter County Courthouse, located at 141 N. Main Street, Sumter SC, will open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon. - Fri for absentee voting. Curbside voting is also available.
Four additional absentee voting locations will open starting Tuesday, Oct. 6 from 9:00 a.m. to 4 p.m. Those are:
- Catchall Community Center – 2720 Peach Orchard Road, Dalzell, SC.
- Pinewood Community Center – 130 Epperson Street, Pinewood, SC
- North HOPE Center – 904 N. Main Street, Sumter, SC
- Former Jones Nissan Building – 1260 Broad Street, Sumter, SC
"Remember, prior to you going in to vote, make sure you have your photo ID handy, in-hand, wearing your mask and be prepared to have your temperature checked at the door," Jefferson said.
If you requested an absentee ballot by mail, Jefferson said they're mailing 8,000 of those ballots out Tuesday.