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Plans for satellite absentee voting site materializing

Logistics comm.

The Greenwood County Board of Voters Registration and Elections Logistic Committee met Tuesday to discuss plans for a satellite absentee voting site. Committee members Fred Payne, Derwin Sthare, Connie Moody, Don Going and David Eddy met in the Greenwood County Conference Room.

Plans are moving forward to have a satellite absentee voting precinct open in October for Greenwood County voters.

The Greenwood County Board of Voter Registration and Elections Logistics Committee met again Tuesday to iron out plans for the November election.

“We have looked at a few facilities,” said Connie Moody, director of voter registration and elections.

Moody said the satellite absentee voting precinct will likely be in the City of Greenwood. She said the precinct will need to be in close proximity to her office at Park Plaza on Monument Street.

She told the committee several details need to be worked out, including a discussion with city leaders to make sure an absentee voting precinct can successfully operate at a proposed location in the city.

She also said she would need to contact the site’s internet service provider to make sure ample internet speeds are available as well as contacting a security monitoring service to make sure the location will be secure.

Moody said voting machines would remain at the satellite location. She said each machine is locked and sealed when not in use and poll workers inspect machines daily before unlocking.

She said she would also need to obtain laptops for poll workers to use at this temporary location.

Moody said this absentee location would need to only be used for voting similar to how precincts operate on Election Day.

“Just like a regular precinct,” Moody said. “The whole intent of having a satellite precinct is to expedite the voting experience so the voter doesn’t have to wait in line.”

She suggested any change of address, provisional balloting and acceptance of mail-in absentee ballots be handled at the main office at 600 Monument St., Room 113.

“All business needs to take place here,” David Eddy, a board member on the logistics committee, said.

The committee decided the satellite absentee precinct would operate from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. When it initially opens in early October, it will only be open Tuesday through Thursday. In the two weeks before Election Day, it will operate five days a week.

Moody said the board will monitor how operations go to see if any changes need to be made.

The satellite absentee precinct will have eight to 10 voting machines and one scanner.

Write-in committee formed

The committee also appointed members of the board to a write-in committee to oversee the counting of write-in votes.

Logistics committee member Fred Payne was appointed to be on the three-person committee, along with board members Ann Broome and David Connor. Board member Beth Rembert will serve as an alternate member.

The write-in committee will tally write-in votes from the mail-in absentee ballots. Two races in Greenwood County will have no candidates on the ballot and will depend on write-in entries. The countywide soil and water commission will require voters to write-in their choice of candidate as will the election for Greenwood County School District 50’s board Seat 4. Incumbent school board member Claude Wright died in early September.

Should a question arise about a voter’s write-in entry, the committee has a plan.

“If the voter’s intent cannot be determined for a ballot after a review by the write-in committee, I say it goes to the full board,” Moody said.

Committee members agreed. The committee also agreed to have two vote counters who count and initial each tally sheet to ensure accuracy of the count.

Moody told the committee that the software used by the elections office allows for reports of write-in votes which will help in tabulating those results.

Head start on mail-in absentee votes

The committee also worked out details for how to handle mail-in absentee ballots.

Moody told the committee her office has received more than 4,000 requests for mail-in absentee ballots. Last week, her office received 3,500 at the time of the committee’s last meeting on Thursday.

The committee put a plan in place for how to process mail-in ballots assuming the state allows for extra processing days.

The state Legislature returned Tuesday to take up several matters including a bill allowing the opening of the outer envelope of a mail-in absentee ballot at 7 a.m. Nov. 1, the Sunday before Election Day. This bill was approved by the state Senate earlier this month.

If the legislature sends final approval and Gov. Henry McMaster signs it, the board will begin removing the outer envelopes on that Sunday.

Moody said she will have four ballot scanners in the conference room ready for vote tabulation on Nov. 3.

Help still needed

“I think we are going to have depend a lot on volunteers,” Eddy said.

Moody said her office has received three volunteers committed to helping with election operations.

The committee discussed what tasks volunteers would be allowed to assist with:

Opening outer envelopes of mail-in absentee ballots.

Ensuring “Authorization to Return Ballot” forms are secured to envelopes, when applicable.

Opening inner envelopes of mail-in absentee ballots.

Sorting ballots into flat stacks for scanning.

Tallying ballots, envelopes and stubs by batch.

Scanning ballots.

Secure ballots, envelopes and stubs in back supply room on a regular basis.

Volunteers will be monitored by board members and social distancing will need to be observed, Moody said.

Moody also told the committee she has had applicants for positions but three interviewees didn’t show up for interviews.

“We are not fully staffed yet,” Moody said.

The logistics committee will meet again at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday to discuss final plans for a satellite absentee voting site.

Contact staff writer James Hicks at jhicks@indexjournal.com or on Twitter @jameshicks3.

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