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Nearly 1 in 5 in South Carolina residents have already voted in 2022 midtermsFree Access

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Before the polls open on Tuesday, nearly one in five South Carolina voters have already cast their ballots in the 2022 midterm elections.

More than 560,000 voters took advantage of 12 days of no excuse early voting, put into law earlier this year for the first time, according to statistics from the South Carolina Election Commission.

Friday was the busiest day for early voting with almost 69,000 votes cast and the number of voters steadily rose most days from the first time polls opened Oct. 24.

The top five counties for early voting were Charleston, Horry, Greenville, Richland and Lexington counties, according to election agency data.

About 55,000 absentee votes have been mailed back as of Monday morning. The 615,500 early ballots represent more than 18% of South Carolina’s nearly 3.4 million registered voters.

Across the state, South Carolina votes will choose a U.S. senator and governor as well as several other statewide offices.

If turnout in 2022 is similar to turnout in the last midterm elections in 2018, that means about a third of votes in South Carolina would be in before Election Day on Tuesday.

Early voting came to South Carolina this year thanks to a new law that received nearly unanimous support in the General Assembly. Voters get 12 days to cast ballots ending the Saturday before the election.

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.

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