SPARTANBURG CO., S.C. (WSPA) – With the election next week, Spartanburg County election officials told 7 News they’re seeing abnormally high numbers of absentee voters. In fact, we’ve broken records.
7 News went out to the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium and spoke with some folks who decided to vote early.
“I just wanted to do something good before my time is up,” Wilkins said.
You won’t meet a more excited voter than Nathan Wilkins. That’s because in his 75 years of life, Monday was his first time ever voting.
Wilkins told 7 News he voted for the sake of his family and for unity.
“My children, my grandchildren, my sons and daughters, I just want them to know that their father is for real,” he said. “More love for everybody.”
Even though Wilkins had to wait in line for quite a while before casting his vote, he said it was totally worth it; and he made a lot of friends along the way.
“I love people,” he said. “I don’t care who they are or where they come from. I’m a people person and always will be.”
Henry Laye, with the Spartanburg County Elections Commission, told 7 News he isn’t surprised to see first-time voters like Wilkins coming out.
“In 2007, Spartanburg County had about 165,000 registered voters. Today, we’re over 205,000 registered voters; and the surge in registered voters in Spartanburg County in the last month or six weeks has been phenomenal,” Laye said. “People, I think, are finally realizing that the way to change in this country is at the ballot box.”
In 2016, Laye said, a total of 22,000 people showed up to vote absentee. As of Monday morning, 23,000 had already cast their vote.
Laye said they usually see around 68% of Spartanburg County voters turn out. This year, he said, they expect more than 80%, with the potential of 35,000-40,000 people voting in person.
“This presidential election has the voters in such a high emotional state that they’re coming out to vote in record numbers–not just in Spartanburg County, but across the state of South Carolina and across the nation,” Laye said.
Wilkins said he’s now encouraging others who’ve never voted to follow his lead.
“Just take my word for it, everybody. Just try it and you’ll like it,” he said.
Wilkins told 7 News he’s never been more proud of himself and said the experience of voting is something he’ll never forget.
“Oh, it was wonderful. My day has been so good. First-time thing? Thank you, Lord,” he said.
Because of the large turnout, officials with the Spartanburg County Elections Commission suggest taking snacks with you when you go to vote.
Election officials also want to remind voters to make sure your voter’s registration is up to date beforehand.