Long lines, longer wait: Beaufort County officials address Election Day issues

People complained that results took a very long time to come in. (WTGS/Caitlyn Penter)

People in Beaufort County said that there were some issues at the polls on election day.

One of the biggest complaints: long lines. “I waited probably about 35-40 minutes," said one man. “About an hour long," said another woman.

Election officials said the lines were long because of high voter turnout. 58.44 percent of registered voters voted on Tuesday in the county. That is up from the last midterm election in November of 2014 where 43.92 percent of registered voters went to the polls.

Election officials said there were also problems at two of the precincts on Hilton Head Island.

“There were two issues we experienced in Hilton Head at two of our polling locations where the voting machines stopped working,” said Marie Smalls, the director of voter registration and elections in Beaufort County.

She said in order to count the votes on the faulty machines, the machines had to be physically moved to the county's election headquarters on election night.

“Brought them back to the office and were able to recover the votes," said Smalls.

She said the county's machines are getting old, saying they've been in service for the last 14, almost 15, years. Smalls said they have no control over when the county gets new machines. They are calling on the state legislature to send new machines ahead of the presidential election in 2020.

People also complained to us about how long it took for results to come out.

“Seems like the results took a long time last night," said one woman on Hilton Head Island.

Smalls responded to these complaints and said they did something new this year. She said to prevent any cyber security problems, they counted the votes by hand. “All results were driven to our main location and read in one by one," she said.

People we spoke with on Wednesday on Hilton Head Island said they didn't understand why it was being done like this.

“It seems counterproductive. The machines are there to, in fact, count the votes," said one man.

Smalls said despite minor issues, Election Day went well given the large amount of voters the county saw. She said she also wanted to thank polling managers for working hard on Tuesday.

“Overall, I think the precincts in Beaufort County operated well under the number of voters that turned out," said Smalls.


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