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1st-ever SC early voting opens; sample ballot site crashes

Nick Youngson
The Blue Diamond Gallery via Pix4free.org

South Carolina's first-ever round of early voting for the general election started Monday with no problems at the polls, but a state website where people go to check voting locations or get a sample ballot crashed.

Technicians are working to fix the South Carolina Election Commission's website at scvotes.org, agency spokesman Chris Whitmire said. In the meantime, voters can look at their ballot choices before heading to the polls at a different site.

The agency's website is not linked to the state's voting system, Whitmire said.

About 40,000 people cast ballots Monday on the first day of early voting, the agency said — more than twice the amount of people who voted on the busiest day of early voting during this year's primaries.

This is the first year South Carolina is allowing voters to cast ballots in person early without having an excuse as to why they can't vote on Election Day. Polls are open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., through Nov. 5.

There were a smaller number of polling places opened for early voting during the June primaries and only a few minor problems were reported.

Over the past several elections, South Carolina has allowed people to cast absentee ballots in person, but they had to include an excuse for why they could not be at the polls on Election Day. The law passed this year has South Carolina returning to mail-in absentee ballots.

The proposal received almost unanimous support from Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly. It also makes voter fraud a felony, increasing fines and possible jail time for people who try to vote under a false name or vote more than once, or poll managers who intentionally break the law.

The law also adds new rules for state election board members and the election commission's executive director, prohibiting them from taking actions that contradict state election law and from making statements that discredit the state's election rules.

South Carolina is the 45th state to allow anyone, for whatever reason, to vote before Election Day.