As voters in the Swan Lake and Folsom Park precincts waited in two separate lines to the door before and at 7 a.m. when polls opened Tuesday for Election Day, whispers and comments could be heard throughout the Willow Drive Elementary School halls about turnout.
Many said they had never seen a line to vote so long in Sumter County before. Some had never had to wait before.
With record absentee turnout and regular lines that seemed similar to a presidential election, Sumter County voters made their voices heard Tuesday.
By the time absentee ballots had all been counted and all 58 precincts reported their choices for local, state and national candidates, more than 8,000 of them were absentee, about 5,710 of which were cast in person.
Clarendon County recorded 3,544 absentee ballots were issued, and Lee issued 1,062.
According to the South Carolina Election Commission, more than 260,000 absentee ballots issued statewide as of Friday and more than 230,000 absentee ballots returned. For the 2014 General Election, the last midterm, approximately 157,000 absentee ballots were cast, which was the previous record for absentee voting in a midterm election.
Sumter was recording a 51.7 percent voter turnout, according to unofficial results from the South Carolina Election Commission. Votes and exact numbers will be certified on Friday morning.
In 2014, statewide voter participation reached 43.9 percent. In 2016 for the presidential election, it got to 67.9 percent.
Pat Jefferson, director of the Sumter County Voter Registration and Elections Office, said she was thrilled that so many people came out to vote.
Tuesday's results showed 63.4 percent of Sumterites voted a Democratic straight-party ticket, while 34.8 percent clicked a Republican straight-party ticket. Sumter supported Democratic gubernatorial candidate James Smith - who lost to Gov. Henry McMaster - hometown 5th Congressional District candidate Archie Parnell, who was appearing to lose, and Sumter's 6th Congressional District Rep. Jim Clyburn, who was appearing to win.
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