With a shortage of poll workers and delays on mail-in absentee ballots in the last few elections, Greenwood County’s election staff looked Wednesday toward shoring up some concerns prior to the primary and general elections this year.

Greenwood County Voter Registration and Elections Director Connie Moody spoke with the elections logistics committee Wednesday about the need to recruit more poll workers.

“We’ve had a lot of poll managers that, for various reasons, can’t work,” Moody said. “It’s just a nice way to make some extra money and do your civic duty.”

Poll workers earn $135 for each election they work. Workers have to take a two-hour training class in person or online, and must be registered voters in South Carolina. Anyone age 16 or older is eligible, and while a poll manager must live in Greenwood County or an adjacent county, a poll worker may be a registered voter from anywhere in the state.

“So, if you’ve got a Lander student from Myrtle Beach, they can still work it,” Moody said.

The department has printed flyers advertising the search for poll workers and posted them in the county library, at Lander University and will look into putting others at Piedmont Technical College and elsewhere. The upcoming election days are on May 10, June 14 and 28, and Nov. 8. For information about becoming a poll worker, call the voter registration and elections office at 864-942-8648, or email ctinsley@greenwoodsc.gov or cmoody@greenwoodsc.gov.

“Everybody should have to come see what takes place to make sure an election happens,” said David Eddy, voter registration and elections board member.

Moody raised some concern with the committee about a dozen mail-in absentee ballots submitted between October and December that were delayed by the U.S. Postal Service’s delivery. Her own ballot, signed on Nov. 21 and postmarked the following day, didn’t make it to the voter registration office until nearly a month later, on Dec. 20.

“We had a lot of ballots that were not postmarked at all,” she said. “We had a discussion with the postmaster and he said he would look into this. I have not heard back.”

Moody said another county department found three ballots in a post box across the street at 528 Monument St., despite the voter registration office being at the address 600 Monument St.

“What frightens me is this was a small election,” Moody said. “What’s going to happen in June?”

Moody said she reached out to Greenwood’s postmaster at the main post office on North Creek Boulevard as well as the state’s election office, but hasn’t received a response from either agency. She said absentee ballots are marked when mailed out to voters, to ensure they aren’t sent to the Greenville postal center with other mail and are instead sent directly to voters. When voters mail those ballots back, however, she said she couldn’t be sure the ballots stayed in Greenwood as intended.

With the recent District 5 special election Democratic primary within a single vote’s margin of going to a runoff, Moody said delayed ballots could change the outcome of an election. She was especially confused by the six ballots that were sent in with no postmark.

“I’m at a loss as to what to do,” she said.

The Greenwood postmaster, commenting through another staff member, declined to comment on any of these concerns Wednesday. Moody said if any mail-in absentee voters want to check the status of their ballot they should visit scvotes.gov, or call the county office at 864-942-8648. If a ballot is not received by the elections office, she said the office can issue a letter of authorization to let voters cast a ballot to ensure their vote is counted.

The committee discussed other matters, including looking for an alternative polling location for the precinct at Wesley Commons. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Moody said she would feel more comfortable exploring possible alternative locations, should high case numbers make it risky to host a polling center at the assisted living community.

Election staff talked about adding a check-in table for election night, so staff can ensure all equipment, ballots and digitally recorded results are turned in correctly. Moody said this is to ensure poll managers don’t leave for home before elections office staff can double-check the items they turn in.

Finally, Moody said Greenwood County is responsible for running the upcoming Ware Shoals School District 51 election on May 10, but a new state election system requires that elections are run using equipment from the polling place’s respective counties. Because Ware Shoals is in three different counties, Greenwood staff will have to run the election using Greenwood, Laurens and Abbeville counties’ equipment.

Moody and the committee agreed to contact the other two counties and bring their voting equipment to the local office to be programmed and prepared for the election, then distributed to their respective polling places the day of the election.

“May is going to be here in no time, and we’re going to be out there having to deliver equipment,” Moody said.

Contact staff writer Damian Dominguez at 864-634-7548 or follow on Twitter @IJDDOMINGUEZ.