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Voters, challenges were numerous during election

The results from the Nov. 3 General Election in South Carolina and Laurens County became official Monday when the state Election Commission certified the results even as nationally results of the presidential election continued to be contested by President Donald Trump, who was defeated by President-elect Joe Biden.

Lynne West, director of the Laurens County Board of Elections and Voter Registration, said expanded in-person absentee voting prior to the election kept her staff busy at the Historic Laurens County Courthouse in the days leading up to the election, but probably helped Election Day flow more smoothly.

“It put a lot of stress on our staff and on our resources here for the in-person voting, but luckily we were able to hire a bunch of temps,” West said. “They were poll workers who had a working knowledge of Election Day, so they picked up the absentee process really quickly, and we appreciate them stepping up for us.”

A grant allowed the local board of elections to hire 15 people to help with in-person absentee voting, which was expanded by the state due to COVID-19.

Even with the lines, voters observed social distancing and wore masks as they waited to vote.

Before Election Day, 8,318 voters cast ballots in Laurens County and another 2,490 voted by mail. The total 10,808 absentee ballots was 35% of the 30,739 ballots cast in the county. Altogether, 72% of the county’s 42,518 registered voters participated in the General Election.

Election officials across the state were also using new voting machines, which had been utilized to a lesser degree in June elections, but new polling books – electronic tablets – were added to the mix prior to the General Election.

“That technology was new to everyone, but we were able to get everyone trained on it, and everything went OK,” West said.

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