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South Carolina primary: Live updates from polling sites across the state

Greenville News logo Greenville News 2/29/2020 Elizabeth LaFleur, Donna Isbell Walker, Anna B. Mitchell and Scott Keepfer, Greenville News
a computer sitting on top of a book: South Carolina's new voting machines. © MATT BURKHARTT/Staff South Carolina's new voting machines.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. in South Carolina's 2020 Democratic presidential primary, and the will close at 7 p.m., though people in line to vote at that time will be allowed to vote even after 7 p.m.

Eight candidates are vying for the Democratic nomination for president, though they don't all appear on South Carolina ballots and some names that will appear are candidates who have already dropped out of the race. Michael Bloomberg is not on the ballots because he entered the race too late to appear. Writing in a candidate is not an option. Michael Bennet, Cory Booker, John Delaney, Deval Patrick and Andrew Yang appear on ballots though they've withdrawn from the race and their votes will be counted.

Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and Tom Steyer are in the race and on South Carolina ballots.

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Read below for more. This live coverage will be updated throughout the day.

Here's what to expect at the polls and on the ballot when you vote

Voter voices: here's why SC residents say they are voting today

Find complete coverage of the South Carolina primary here

Follow live election results for the South Carolina primary here, starting at 7 p.m.

Live updates from polling sites across South Carolina:

St. Helena Island, 4:52 p.m. Roosevelt McCollough, a poll clerk at St. Helena Library on St. Helena Island in Beaufort County, said he was disappointed with turnout Saturday after about 250 people had voted there as of 4:40 p.m.

“It’s a fair turnout ... we expected 400 to tell you the truth,” he said. “The disappointing part is I haven’t seen too many young folks.”

There are plenty of young people who live in his precinct and especially with Bernie Sanders doing well in the race, he said he thought he would have seen more at the polls today.

Orangeburg, 4:50 p.m. In Orangeburg, one of the polling stations that pulled the most voters in 2016 was inside the Prince of Orange Mall. The station is right next to the food court. A few families, mothers with “I Voted” stickers on their coats, eat after voting while their children play around the table. There is no line to vote.

Roebuck, 4:49 p.m. Diana Callahan, a 69-year-old retiree from Roebuck in Spartanburg County, said she voted for Amy Klobuchar.

“I like her policies and the way she presents herself,” Callahan said.

Central, 4:48 p.m. While her 10-year-old son, Carter, played games in the main library room, 34-year-old receptionist Ivi Li cast her vote for Bernie Sanders at the Central-Clemson Library.

“I’ve never really thought so much about voting,” Li said. “But God means for everybody to have a voice and if you don’t vote, you don’t have a voice.”

She said education and her son were on her mind when deciding for whom to vote.

Poll manager Theresa Hawkins said turnout at the library has been greater than expected.

“Everybody seems to be excited,” Hawkins said.

Rock Hill, 4:47 p.m. As Pat Pietersen stands outside Rock Hill City Hall handing out pamphlets about the South Carolina Democratic Party, she said she’s thrilled seeing the black community exercise its right to vote.

She said she remembers back when she was a public schoolteacher in eastern North Carolina just as integration started. At the time, she started an all-black Girl Scout troop because the local troop didn’t allow black girls. Now her focus is getting President Donald Trump out of office, and to do this she had to vote strategically, she said.

Pietersen was torn between four candidates, and said she ultimately chose former Vice President Joe Biden. She said she hopes he’ll choose a minority woman as his vice president.

Bishopville, 4:46 p.m. Alexander Boyd, a 70-year-old retiree, cast his ballot for Joe Biden, citing his experience as the vice president and his belief that Biden is the candidate who truly represents the Democratic Party. He said he also thinks Biden is the one who can defeat Trump. Boyd voted at the Old Fire Station, home to the Bishopville No. 2 precinct.

Orangeburg, 4:44 p.m. Voting in Orangeburg, 79-year-old Otis Nelson, said he believes it is his civic duty to vote. He said he also wanted to support Joe Biden, believing he is the candidate who can change the country’s current course.

“Obama trusted him for eight years,” Nelson said. “I can trust him for four.”

Greenville 4:42 p.m. The polling site at Overbrook Baptist Church was running smoothly at 4:30 p.m., and poll workers said they had had over 350 voters so far.

a man holding a sign posing for the camera: On SAturday, Feb. 29, 2020, Bernie Sanders canvasser Stephen Wolcott, 27, of Atlanta made a stop at Lebanon and Maxwell streets in Pendleton. © Mike Ellis On SAturday, Feb. 29, 2020, Bernie Sanders canvasser Stephen Wolcott, 27, of Atlanta made a stop at Lebanon and Maxwell streets in Pendleton.

Spartanburg 4:40 p.m. Spartanburg County Elections Director Henry Laye gave this update: “Turnout overall is reported as light — of course, some precincts are experiencing good participation. No major issues; some minor things that have been handled.”

Anderson 4:38 p.m. Voting was relatively light on Saturday at four precincts on different sides of Anderson.

A total of 160 voters had cast ballots at Trinity United Methodist Church, a turnout of about 9%. There was about the same turnout a few blocks away at Whitehall Elementary. The church and school are on the north side of Anderson.

On the southeast side of Anderson, 346 voters had cast ballots at two precincts based at Nevitt Elementary School as of 3:15 p.m.

Clemson and Pendleton 4:35 p.m. Bernie Sanders campaign workers are out and about in Anderson and Pickens counties.

The News caught up with Sanders canvassers Jasmine Douresseaux, 23, of Cobb County and Stephen Wolcott, 27, of Atlanta at Lebanon and Maxwell streets in Pendleton this afternoon.

They said they came up from Georgia in a caravan of about 40 people with the aim of working the Pendleton, Clemson and Anderson areas. The group has knocked on thousands of doors, they said. 

In Clemson earlier today, another Sanders campaign worker told The News they had six local residents out canvassing and another 12 came up from Atlanta to help.

Allendale County 4:28 p.m. Paige Williams, 37, voted at the Allendale Community Center. She said she is most concerned about healthcare in the rural South Carolina county.

a person wearing a costume: Paige Williams, 37, voted Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, at the Allendale Community Center. © Nathaniel Cary Paige Williams, 37, voted Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, at the Allendale Community Center.

West Pelzer 4:25 p.m. So far today, there have been 89 votes cast at the West Pelzer precinct — an impressive number for this location. This precinct had the second-lowest turnout rate in Anderson County in the 2016 Democratic Presidential Preference Primary. A total of 47 people voted that time.

Greenville 4:23 p.m. Disabled U.S. Army veteran Clarence Weathers of Greenville showed up to the Parker Fire Station No. 2 polling site dressed in his Army combat uniform.

He said he voted for Joe Biden to simply “just get Trump out of there.”

“ I don’t have a problem with anybody else. I don’t care if it’s a woman, black, white. Anybody. I don’t care,” he said. “Get that (Trump) out the way right there. I’m serious.”

Anderson 4:19 p.m. Anderson County Councilwoman Gracie Floyd, the county's only elected Democrat, said she wants to vote for a candidate who will create less political acrimony.

"I am looking for somebody who is going to give us a chance to calm ourselves and take a breath," she said.

She said earlier that she had still not decided who to vote for when she arrived at Nevitt Forest Elementary School on Saturday afternoon.​

Greenville 4:13 p.m. Just over 100 voters, about a 10% turnout, have shown up to the Parker Fire Station No. 2 polling site on South Washington Avenue so far today.

Anderson 4:10 p.m. White Plains Precinct 1 in Anderson County is at 190 votes with three hours to go before the polls close. In the Democratic Presidential Preference Primary of 2016, a total of 123 votes were cast.

Poll workers are beaming with pride because they have 20 people who signed up to be poll workers next cycle. They said they feel that is going to be the biggest number of prospects in the county.

a bench in front of a building: The West Pelzer polling place in Anderson County is quiet Saturday afternoon, Feb. 29, 2020, during the South Carolina Democratic Presidential Preference Primary. © Mike Ellis The West Pelzer polling place in Anderson County is quiet Saturday afternoon, Feb. 29, 2020, during the South Carolina Democratic Presidential Preference Primary.

Beaufort 4:06 p.m. At the Charles Lind Brown polling place for the city of Beaufort, turnout has been between 17 and 20% for the three precincts that vote here, poll clerk Jonnie Grant said.

It’s been a good, steady turnout today, she said.

Florence 4:05 p.m. In an email to The News, Florence Elections Director David Alford put it simply: "Light turnout as expected." He did not provide any figures.

Earlier at one precinct in Florence — the county's public services building  — four poll workers sat behind a table talking while one walked around the room. With no voters in sight, there wasn't much else for them to do.

The last voter who'd walked through the door was quickly sent back because he wasn't at the right polling spot. As of 2:30 p.m. Saturday, this has been a common occurrence, said precinct clerk Chastity Barnes.

"I'd be over 10% turnout so far if I was able to vote everyone who came to the wrong place," she said. "I've had at least 30 (come to the wrong place) thus far."

Barnes said turnout is at about 7% for her precinct thus far.

A short time later, the poll workers assumed their duties when Shirley Thomas strolled in with her 7-year-old granddaughter. She said she voted for the candidate she feels has the best chance of beating President Donald Trump. To her, that person is Joe Biden.

"It has nothing do with the fact he used to be vice president," she said. "It's because he is the one who is going to beat Trump and get him out of the White House."

Charleston 4 p.m. Barbara Burroughs, the poll clerk at W.B. Ellis Elementary School in Charleston, said that 318 voters had cast their ballots at the polling location as of 3:50 p.m., about on pace with what she was expecting.

Absentee voting in the precinct, however, was much higher than usual, with 475.

“When I went to pick up the supplies the other day, they had lines, “ she said. “My husband votes absentee, and it took him about 20 minutes to get in the door.”

Hilton Head Island 3:58 p.m. Earlier this afternoon at the Port Royal Beach House polling place on Hilton Head Island in Beaufort County, a private residential community, a reporter from The Greenville News was barred access.

The poll is located on private property and security for the community denied letting an identified reporter enter the compound to access the poll. This is not supposed to happen as private property is supposed to be open to the public on Election Day, said Marie Smalls, director of the Board of Voter Registration and Elections of Beaufort County, when asked about the incident.

“We will make sure to make every effort in the future that they understand that,” she said.

They’ve never had any problems before with this issue at that polling place, she said, and it’s been a polling place for the county for several years.

Greenville 3:53 p.m. Conway Belangia, director of elections in Greenville County, said  there has been some confusion at the polls with voters not going to their correct polling locations.

Greenville County residents can look up their correct polling place online. Several precincts have had to find new locations for the primary due to construction and school schedules.

Belangia said precincts across the county have reported mostly light turnout, with some precincts seeing a moderate number of voters.

"Overall it's been pretty smooth," he said. "It sort of slowed down this afternoon and we'll see what this evening holds. Sometimes voters vote late in the day. But it's a Saturday election, so I have no clue." 

A turnout of about 15% would be considered good for this election, he said. 

Beaufort 3:50 p.m. Countywide in Beaufort, turnout had been steady and normal as of 3 p.m. today.

“It’s normal. It’s nothing out of the ordinary,” said Marie Smalls, director of the Board of Voter Registration and Elections in Beaufort County. “It’s like a typical primary turnout."

They had a couple of issues with cards getting jammed at ballot boxes today and another with traffic for a festival going on in Port Royal, she said, but there were no major hiccups.

Pickens 3:47 p.m. At Secona Baptist Church in Pickens, Frank Owens was the 43rd voter at 2 p.m. Owens said he was not surprised to see such low turnout living in a rural area, where more than three-quarters of the county voted for President Donald Trump in the 2016 General Election.  

“We’re bombarded with Trump paraphernalia everywhere," Owens said. "You got to believe in something, and I believe that the Democratic Party is best for our country.”

Mayesville (Lee County) 3:39 p.m. More than 200 people — including absentee voters — have cast ballots at the St. Charles Precinct at Lower Lee Elementary School in Mayesville. It’s one of Lee County’s busiest precincts.

Stan Barnhill, Lee County's director of voter registration and elections, said turnout has been “light.”

Rock Hill 3:38 Poll clerk Helen Maloney has known all 17 voters by name that have come into Bullocks Creek Fire Department to cast their ballots.

The polling place in Sharon saw only 13 voters in the 2016 Democratic primary.

Maloney said she and the two other poll managers with her are reading books and working on crafts to pass the time. They had a little bit of trouble setting up the new machines this morning, but everything has been working smoothly ever since.

Elections director Wanda Hemphill said there haven’t been any voting machine issues countywide besides a few little bumps getting the machines set up in the morning.

“The machines are doing fine,” Hemphill said. “We got the toughest part over with.”

Greenville 3:24 p.m. Shirley Smith-McKinney of Greenville said as she was leaving the voting booths at West End Community Development Corp. that it’s her duty to vote.

“Too many young people that are African American complain or young Hispanics complain. They complain about what they don’t like, but they don’t vote,” the 63-year-old African American woman said. “No matter who you vote for, you should vote.”

Pickens 3:20 p.m. Pickens County has received 540 absentee ballots. One precinct, Clemson Downs, has seen over 300 people, but most polling locations are at about 100 voters, Pickens County Board of Voter Registration and Elections Executive Director Rodney Allen said.

He reported no problems with voting machines.

“We wish more voters would participate, but that’s always the way,” Allen said with a laugh.

Pickens does not track turnout percentages throughout the day, Allen said.

Greer 3:13 p.m.  Alcine Burow, head poll worker at the Needmore Recreation Center, said that only 175 people had voted by 3 p.m., which is less than 10% of the registered voters in the district.

Charleston 3:10 p.m. When Lakesha Hicks took a moment from working at the polls at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church to check Facebook, she saw multiple complaints had appeared on her timeline, questioning why the names of candidates who had dropped out were still on the ballot.

Several candidates had ended their campaigns leading up to the primary, but not in time to have their names removed, and fliers have been tacked to walls and taped to tables in polling places around the state to let voters know not to vote for them.

So when Hicks, the poll clerk who’s worked elections at St. Joseph’s for eight years, saw the social media posts, she took to Facebook herself, explaining in a live video why some inactive candidates were still on the ballot and encouraging people to come out and vote.

“They need to know what the truth is and stop talking about what they don’t understand, because that deters voters,” she said. “A lot of people don’t come out because of what they see other people say... Instead, you should get in your car and encourage your neighbor who doesn’t have a ride to vote.”

More than 150 people turned out to vote at the St. Joseph’s polling place, Hicks said.

“That’s amazing for this precinct,” she said

Greenville 2:58 p.m. Including absentee ballots, 624 votes were cast at West End Community Development Corporation in Greenville as of 2:45 p.m. Saturday.

Poll Manager Chris Romanek said he expects a 20% voter turnout by the time polls close, based on a “steady influx” of voters throughout the day.

“They’ve kept us busy,” he said.

By 8 a.m., more votes had been cast there than the entire voter turnout of the recent Greenville County Sheriff Republican primary election.

Greenville 2:44 p.m. Julianna and Ryland Rainsford wrangled their 2-year-old son while chatting about why they chose to vote Saturday. The two, 31 and 32, are registered Republicans, but said they have voted for both Democrats and Republicans on the local level and said the rest of the country could learn a lot from the Greenville city leadership.

“We really admire people on city council and the mayor, a lot of the people that live and work her and how much they live for the community and not for politics,” Ryland Rainsford said.

Though nationally, the Rainsfords said they have tended to vote Republican, “we feel like we can’t in good conscious vote for Trump and so we’d like to have a say in who the alternative is.”

They see hope for an alternative in Joe Biden, whom they said had not only experience but also a sensibility and an ability to work across party lines.

“I feel like he was kind of the best opportunity for a more moderate candidate,” Ryland said. “Someone that could help bridge the gap.”

The couple also liked Pete Buttiigieg, but felt Biden was “more electable.”

“They would make a great ticket,” Ryland said.

Pendleton 2:40 p.m. Four hundred votes at Pendleton Elementary School, which had the county’s highest turnout in the 2016 democratic primary outside of the city of Anderson. In 2016, it had 347 total votes. 

McConnells 2:33 p.m. Poll managers at Olivet Presbyterian Church in McConnells said their day so far has been “easy peasy.” They’ve seen 116 voters, or 7% turnout, as of 2:33 p.m.

Beaufort County 2:24 p.m. Another sleepy polling place in Beaufort County. Turnout has been “not too good, but not too bad either” with 272 people voting so far today at Joseph Shanklin Elementary in Burton, said poll clerk Debra Morrall. They’ve had no issues here, she said.

Spartanburg 2:19 p.m. Spartanburg County Democratic Party Chairwoman Angela Geter says she heard of a false rumor Saturday morning that one-third of the polls were closed. All are open, and poll workers are reporting stronger turnout in the afternoon.

Travelers Rest 2:11 p.m. Turnout at Travelers Rest City Hall was heavier than expected, said head poll worker Dennis Stone.

By 2 pm 283 people had cast ballots representing 12.19% of the registered voters. Officials had expected less than 10% turnout, he said.

Travelers Rest is more diverse, we’ve had a lot of growth,” he said.

Stone said that turnout was 6.77% at Travelers Rest district 2 and 4.64% at Slater Marietta.

Like other poll workers through out the county, Stone said the voting machines worked great.

Columbia 1:55 p.m. Skip Traufler, 79, wouldn’t say who he voted for in the primary but said over and over who he would never vote for: Donald Trump. His primary motivation today was to vote for the candidate he believed would beat Trump in November. He said Trump lies. He speaks like a child. His wife, Melody, chimed in. She said she believes Trump is vulgar. That he treats women horribly. She could have kept listing the things she doesn’t like about Trump, but it would have taken hours, she said. (At Columbia high school)

Beaufort County 1:53 p.m. Turnout has been high at the Chechessee precinct in Beaufort County and there have been no issues. More than 300 people have voted so far today, which is high especially for a Democratic primary, said poll clerk Janay Glover. Glover also noted that voters have liked the newly instituted voting machine system. “A lot of the voters came and told us it was fairly simple,” she said.

Lee County 1:43 p.m. Lee County is one of the least populous counties in the state with a population of over 17,000 and more than 12,000 voters. Voters are served by 23 precincts.

Roebuck 1:38 p.m. Poll worker at Roebuck Elementary precinct in Spartanburg County says turnout is higher than in 2016 and that voters seem to be enthusiastic

Charleston County 1:37 p.m. Poll workers at Royal Missionary Baptist Church rushed to collect curbside ballots at about 1:15 p.m. as people waited to vote inside in a line that stretched the length of the church’s gym. Charleston County Election Director Joseph Debney said Royal Missionary has been one of the busiest in the county throughout the day.

Columbia 1:35 p.m. At Columbia high school: poll workers said there have been no major issues and steady turnout throughout the day. No line currently

Greenville 1:34 p.m. Things were running smoothly at Springfield Baptist Church, where poll manager Sandis Sullivan said they'd had a good turnout so far. By noon, the polling site had 407 votes in, including 123 absentee ballots. Fifteen minutes before polls opened, Springfield had a line of voters waiting to cast ballots, Sullivan said. Most striking for the polling location, however, was the number of young people who'd come out to vote, Sullivan said. The numbers were noticeably higher than with some other elections, he added. 

Saluda County 1:34 p.m. 

About 547 Saluda County voters have cast ballots as of 1:30 p.m. Ruth Padgett, Director of Saluda County Board of Voter Registration and Elections, said some precincts have as few as three votes and the precinct with the most has 88. A little more than 150 of those votes were cast at St. Paul United Methodist Church in Saluda, which served as a combined polling place for two precincts. Poll manager Denise Butler said the day has gone smooth with no hiccups, but she thinks turnout might be affected by the Saluda High School girls varsity basketball game against Christ Church Episcopal School in Greenville. The game determines who goes to the Upper State Championship, and Butler said at least a hundred people went to support them. “It was an early game, so they still have time to come by (the polls) by 7,” Butler said. Craig Stevens, 39, works as a hospital chaplain in Saluda and said his biggest issue was healthcare. Stevens, who considers himself fairly moderate, voted for former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. “I feel like he’s the most moderate — that he would be most likely in the general election to win and to unite the country,” Stevens said.

Pickens County, 1:06 p.m. In northern Pickens county under the shadow of Table Rock Mountain, farmer Sam Wigham cast his vote for Bernie Sanders. He was one of about 100 to vote by 12:30 today at Holly Springs Baptist Church.

Wigham said he came out to represent “an underrepresented voice” in the area.

Poll clerk Diana Hancock said the precinct, one of the largest geographically in the county, usually has high voter participation. Today, she’s not so sure how many will turn up. “With it being only Democrat, we don’t know for sure what will happen.”

Wigham said he feels like his vote “doesn’t make a difference” in the area of mostly Republicans. “There’s a ... much bigger turnout than a few years ago, but who knows how many of those people are Republicans.”

Coincidentally, retiree Nan Gaughf showed up to vote about two minutes after Wigham left. She, too, voted for Sanders “because I'm hoping he'll be the worst Democratic candidate and will lose,” the Trump supporter said.

“If nothing else, I'd like to to see a knockdown, drag out between capitalism and socialism (in the general election),” Gaughf said.

Columbia 12:49 p.m. At W.J. Keenan High School in Columbia, steady but slow turnout today, with no problems, poll workers say. About 450 people have voted so far. People are able to vote in less than a minute; no line at all.

Powdersville 12:34 p.m. Concrete Primary, one of the Powdersville area polling places, had around 139 votes in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary; it is at 160 now. Poll workers said traffic has been steady.

Greenville 12:21 p.m. Families with double strollers and bundled toddlers popped in to vote at the West End Community Development Center. By 11:15 am, poll workers said they’d had 244 voters come through already, plus 100 absentee ballots cast.

Edgefield County 12:12 p.m. Tricia Butler, director of Edgefield County Board of Voter Registration and Elections, said the county had more than 400 absentee votes. She’s anticipating turnout to be just under 20%, but that could change by the time polls close.

Columbia 12:11 p.m. The primary appeared, a sticker at a time, as the Soda City Market in Columbia. Voters stood in line at the food trucks, listened to buskers, picked out baskets of produce, grabbed a cup of coffee. They walked their dogs through the crowded Main Street.  

Kendra Brought, 33, was there for the first time. She voted in her hometown about two hours south of Columbia before heading to the state capital to visit a friend. She was the first person to vote at her polling place. She voted for Sen. Amy Klobuchar, saying her moderate approach to issues most aligns with her own. She thought it was too important for her not to vote. She had a button from the singer Maggie Rogers encouraging people to vote. She usually wears it on her backpack. Today, she wanted to wear it above her heart. Maybe others would see it at the market – and it could encourage them to stop by the polls when they left the market.

Jake Sawyer, 20, approached people at Soda City who didn’t have voting stickers. He asked people if they planed on voting. If they knew their polling location. He helped them look it up if they didn’t know. And then he’d ask if they knew who they were voting for. If they didn’t, he was prepared to make his pitch for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

He is the president of the University of South Carolina’s democratic socialist group, and has been canvassing for Sanders this election. Today, he’s met a lot of people who are disinterested in voting, he said. He’s met some Trump voters, some who are cordial, some who are not. Some who are voting. And some fellow Sanders supporters.

Spartanburg 12:01 p.m. Spartanburg County Democratic Party Chairwoman Angela Geter says high turnout for early voting is a good sign. She said low turnout was reported Saturday morning. “I’m hoping people are just getting a late start to the day and are working their way to the polls,” she said.

Rock Hill 11:57 a.m. Tom Steyer’s campaign is set up in Knowledge Perk coffee shop in Rock Hill, giving out free T-shirts, stickers and buttons. The campaign is also organizing rides to get people to the polls.

Edgefield County 11:57 a.m. At 11:30 a.m., Fred Peterson, 62, arrived at an Edgefield County polling center decked out in a T-shirt he made just for the occasion. It read: “I have PTSD President Donald Trump Stress Disorder Impeachment is the cure,” on the front, and on the back: “Only one race The human race.”

Peterson had only just stepped foot in the polling center before poll workers sent him back out.

“There’s no candidate materials allowed,” poll manager Richard Burns told him before Peterson went back to his truck and changed his shirt.

When he returned, he said he cast his ballot for U.S Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“I really think he has some good ideas — I’m not saying what he has is necessarily the finished product, but I think his ideas and policies are a good place to start,” Peterson said. “I’d really like to see Bernie get the nomination for president, and I’d like to see Tom Steyer on the ticket with him for Vice President.”

The precinct had about 150 voters by 11:45 a.m. and no major issues.

“We work real hard — if they’re registered to vote, I’ll do everything I can to get them to vote,” Burns said.

Burns said he anticipated about 20% voter turnout at his precinct, but he won’t know officially until after polls close.

Taylors 11:33 a.m. 169 people had voted by 11:27am at First Church of God on Brushy Creek Road in Taylors, the polling site for three local precincts.

Lynchburg, 11:30 a.m. A precinct in Lynchburg, at Ryanne’s Catering Hall on Main Street, has had more 70 voters with two curbside and 25 absentee. Joseph Scarborough, a retiree, wants a change from Donald Trump. He didn’t disclose the candidate he voted for but believes his choice is the strongest to debate and defeat Trump.

Seneca 11:23 a.m. In the drafty, chilly gym of Seneca Middle School, all four precincts for Oconee County’s most populous city had already received well over 300 votes by 11 a.m. 

Two voters, Connie Sanders and Barbara Eastman, are President Trump supporters, but decided to vote since there is no Republican primary this year. 

“I voted my part today to try to keep some of the idiots away,” Sanders said. 

Sanders voted for Biden and Eastman for Steyer in an effort to keep Sen. Bernie Sanders out of the general election in November, when they’ll both be casting votes for Pres. Trump. 

“He is more socialist than anything and I don’t agree with most of his ideas ... he’s just not my cup of tea,” Connie Sanders said of the Vermont senator.

Republican groups in the Upstate have asked loyal Republicans to vote in the Democratic primary on Feb. 29 for candidates perceived to be weak in opposition to Trump — for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in one case and for "the worst Democrat" in another, dubbed "Operation Chaos."

Allendale County 11:15 a.m. Paige Williams, 37, voted at the Allendale Community Center Saturday morning. Williams, who works in the school system, was concerned about education as well as the character of President Donald Trump, but for her the most pressing concern is healthcare in rural Allendale County where the hospital is small and access to any medical services is limited and getting worse. 

Access to healthcare in a county with no public transportation is a critical issue for Allendale residents, said Gwen Walker, a poll worker at Allendale Community Center.

It's the state’s most heavily Democratic county, but also the smallest and one of the poorest with median income of $23,300, according to census data. 

It also has the highest black population in the state with 83% black or African-American and 15% white, according to census data. 

All 26 voters who cast a ballot at the community center precinct by 10 a.m. were black, Walker said. 

The county has few healthcare specialists so patients must travel out of town for many services, Walker said. That’s complicated by a lack of reliable transportation. The county does have a Medicaid transport but residents must be on Medicaid to use it. Others rely on friends or family for transportation to appointments, which causes complications and leads to missed appointments, she said. 

Besides healthcare and transportation, residents are concerned about jobs, she said. There are reliable jobs at the University of South Carolina Salkehatchie campus, Allendale Correctional Institution and Collum’s Lumber, but not enough of them, Walker said. 

“We don’t have anything,” she said. “It’s not enough to accommodate the workforce.”

Beaufort County 11:14 a.m. At the Bluffton Rotary Community Center in Beaufort County voters were trickling in steadily, with a little over 100 ballots cast as of 10:45 a.m., said poll clerk Sabel Brown. That number is “pretty normal,” she said, though she expects voting to pick up throughout the day. Tuesday elections tend to have a higher turnout though, especially earlier in the morning.

Spartanburg 11:04 a.m. Poll clerk Kim McIntyre of C.C. Woodson Community Center precinct in Spartanburg says  turnout for a Saturday primary usually picks up around lunchtime, but there aren’t late-afternoon bursts as when a primary is on a weekday when people get off work and vote.

Simpsonville 10:59 a.m. At Calvary Baptist Church in Simpsonville, voter turnout was good, said lead poll worker Linda Ward. By 11 am, 142 people had voted and the district was on track for about 300 or 400, she said. About 20 people were waiting in line when the polls opened, she said.

Aiken County 10:48 a.m. At a small precinct off Old Vaucluse Road in Aiken County, 61 people had voted by 10:41 a.m.

I think everybody should vote,” poll worker Nina Dorman said. “To me it’s fragile, because if you don’t vote, your voice is not heard.”

The Vaucluse precinct has dedicated voters — one woman who is in her 90s votes every election, Dorman said. Another man, who navigates in a wheelchair, votes every year at the station from his car through curbside voting.

“There’s no excuse not to vote,” Dorman said.

Charleston County 10:43 a.m. Charleston County Director of Elections Joseph Debney said voting has gone smoothly through the morning.  Activity at the polls was slow early on, but has picked up over the past several hours. He has no initial numbers yet, but it appears turnout was higher than expected.

Spartanburg County 10:33 a.m. Voter turnout reported light at Boiling Springs High School precinct in Spartanburg County. Thirty-four had voted as of 9:45 a.m. 

Poll worker Amelia Smith at Boiling Springs High School precinct says she has helped with elections since 1976. “It’s a part of civic duty. Like jury duty, part of what I owe the country."

Bishopville 10:29 a.m. Foreign policy was a concern for Amber Taylor who, along with her husband Randolph, cast their ballots at the Cedar Creek precinct on Camden Highway in Bishopville. We need a leader who knows what to do when there’s trouble, Randolph Taylor said.

Clemson 10:23 a.m. Across Clemson, multiple voters are saying they voted for Biden or Sanders because of electability, even opting to not vote for their personal favorite candidates.

“I like Pete (Buttigieg), I like Amy (Klobuchar),” Lucio Valle said at University Baptist Church. But ultimately, Valle voted for Sanders because he’s more recognizable.

York 10:24 a.m. Margaret Thies of York voted for Tom Steyer, but would’ve voted for Michael Bloomberg if she could.

“I do like Tom, but I don’t want Trump to hurt his feelings,” Thies said.

She’s predicting Bloomberg will win the presidency, and will choose former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg as his vice president.

The issues she’s most concerned about are “Healthcare. Education. Basically everything,” she said.

Harold C. Johnson Elementary in York has seen 72 voters as of 10:24 a.m.

Clemson 10:12 a.m. Paula Eversole didn’t know who would secure her vote until the moment she pressed her finger to the touch screen in University Lutheran Church in downtown Clemson. “I just decided right then,” Eversole, 76, laughed. “I had it down to two.”

In the end, former Vice President Joe Biden secured the retiree's vote on his electability in November’s general election.

“I really wanted to vote for Mayor Pete, but I just don’t know if he can make it.”

Charleston 10:13 a.m. Walking out of Northbridge Baptist Church polling place, Peter Locher said he’s backing U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg was his first choice, he said, but he believes Sanders is the candidate who has the momentum to defeat Trump.

“I’m just trying to back Bernie as much as I can now,” he said.

Bluffton 10:06 a.m. Busiest poll The News has seen so far in Beaufort County this morning has been in Bluffton at the Buckwater Recreation Center, but that’s in part because four precincts vote here, said poll clerk Nancy Allen. Still, “I think it’s kind of better than normal,” Allen said of turnout, which has been steady all morning.

Richland County 10:00 a.m. Shirley Stewart always votes. It’s her duty and obligation — and this year is no different. She came to Dent Middle School in Richland County to cast her vote for Joe Biden this morning. She would vote no matter what, but she is particularly motivated because of the state of the country. She said it is so divided, and she believes Biden is in the best position to bring the country back together.

Aiken County 9:54 a.m.  Cynthia Holland, Director of Aiken County’s Board of Elections, said the county had more than 1,700 absentee votes, but the official number won’t be tallied until the polls close. 

The only hitch voters experienced so far was at one precinct where a vote scanning machine wasn’t working. The ballots were put in an “emergency bin” to be scanned after the polls close.

“They actually use the ballot marking devices to vote their ballot and then there’s a slot on top of the scanner where they insert it, and they’re scanned after closing,” Holland said.

Holland said the problem was resolved quickly and all voters are now using functioning machines.

Florence County 9:53 a.m. There have been some minor issues with new voting machines in Florence County, according to elections director David Alford.

Some poll workers, despite weeks of training on the systems, have been feeding the ballots through the machines improperly, causing jams, he said.

"There's some nerves and jitters out there," said Alford, who oversees elections in a county where nearly half of the voters are registered Democrats. "This happens with first-time users on new equipment. I'm not surprised. It always happens early morning Election Day."

It isn't causing any major delays or hold-ups though, and he expects the issues to be resolved within the next couple of hours. 

There were no problems Saturday morning at the county's largest precinct, Savannah Grove Baptist Church. There, voters have been trickling in all morning since polls opened at 7 a.m. But the turnout seems unusually low right now to precinct clerk Shandra Johnson.

"This has always been a heavily Democratic precinct,” Johnson said. “So far it seems low. We had a rush right at the beginning, but it’s a Saturday, it’s still early and it’s cold outside. We will get some more spurts later on.”

In the last presidential election, 46.1 percent of Florence County residents voted Democrat. Minorities comprise nearly half of the county’s population, according to U.S. Census data.

Johnson, who’s been overseeing Savannah Grove for ten years, hopes the turnout numbers pick up. With so many registered Democrats, and so many minority voters, she believes the area, a short drive from Myrtle Beach, could have a huge impact on the outcome of the election.

“Florence County could potentially be a game-changer,” she said, her voice echoing through the open space. At this time, around 8:30 a.m., the only people here were a few poll workers, no voters. “This election is so important. You have to get your voice out there. That one vote could make all the difference.”

Mauldin 9:51 a.m. Jack Knipe came to Mauldin to vote after moving to Greer recently because his registration hadn’t shown up in Greer yet and the county election commission told him to vote in his old district. but when he got to the Mauldin Cultural Center he was told that he wasn’t on the list either, even though he showed up there on SC Votes.

Wanting to vote for Pete Buttigieg, he headed to county square in hopes of voting there.

Greenville County 9:35 a.m. Four voters waited in line for the polls to open at the Needmore Recreation Center in Greer. They had expected long lines like there are during general elections and were surprised when they were the first ones there, said voter Blair Rabun.

Pickens County 9:34 a.m. There were no major issues at the polls in Pickens County by 9:30 a.m., according to elections director Rodney Allen. Allen said it was a slow election for Pickens County. 

Beaufort County 9:32 a.m. Sun City voter Raymond Dominick, 74, is optimistic for the future of our country and is hoping Elizabeth Warren will be the candidate who can defeat Donald Trump. “Trump voters seem to be impervious to most evidence and so it’s going to be hard. I’m wondering what in the world will make some of them, I would say, ‘see the light,’ but of course I’m being one-sided.”

Greenville County 9:32 a.m. Joe Biden stopped at the Phillis Wheatley Center. He didn't spend too long, but was able to give some hugs and chat with voters. Ogretta Pitts, 71, was there and had the remnants of a smile on her face even after Biden had left. She cast her vote for the former vice president citing his experience and his knowledge of what it takes to be president.

Greenville County 9:30 a.m. About 90 people had cast their votes by 8:45 at The Lutheran Church of Our Saviour in Greenville. Voting was steady.

Aiken 9:28 a.m. By 9:20, 33 voters had cast ballots at Aiken High School. 

Mack H. Holland, the precinct 3 manager, said he expects this primary will have higher turnout than in 2016. 

“There’s a lot of candidates, and they’ve spent a lot of money in South Carolina,” Holland said. He expects an uptick in voters later this evening.

Charleston 9:28 a.m. About 76 voters have cast their ballot at the Charleston Baptist Church’s polling place, located in a small converted house on the church’s campus. That’s about twice as many as poll clerk John Spearman said he was expecting. 

The morning’s been running smoothly, Spearman said, but space has been tight.

For larger elections, the church will typically put voting machines in the gym. It’s been close quarters in the one-story house as dozens of people file through.

Columbia 9:28 a.m. At dent middle school in Columbia, there are more workers than voters. One just walked in - workers here expect there to be more folks around lunch and dinner time. So far, no issues. Workers are now eating their breakfast.

Beaufort County 9:28 a.m. At the Hidden Cypress Golf Club in the Sun City area, more people appear to be headed into the fitness center than the adjoining the conference room where the polling place here is set up. While turnout has been “pretty steady” with about 100 voters so far this morning, that number is still lower than normal, potentially due to this being a Democratic election only, said poll clerk Heather Pelley. “It’s hard to compare them, but I think it’s a lot lower than normal,” she said. Also said Saturday vs. Tuesday Election Day doesn’t tend to affect turnout here as most voters in this precinct are retirees

Pickens County 9:27 a.m. In Abel Baptist Church in Clemson, a familiar scene played out at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. 

Curtis and May Frances Harrison walked in to cast their vote in the quiet, sparsely furnished back room of the church. For a moment, the only sound in the room came from May Harrison writing her name on the sign-in sheet and the swishing sound from her husband’s polyester Clemson Tigers windbreaker 

They were the only voters in the precinct. 

City Councilwoman and poll manager Crossie Cox said it’ll continue to be quiet in Clemson throughout the morning as people wake up. Cox is manning the Clemson Downs retirement home poll station, where 125 people are expected to show up today and they received 40 absentee ballots.

Bishopville 9:27a.m. Lee Fire Station 4 on Una Road in Bishopville has had two voters  - Cleo Davis, a retiree, and Parker Beasley, a farmer.  Davis said she was driven partly to get a change in the White House.  Beasley wants a change closer to home - a cleanup of the Lee County landfill.

Mauldin 9:26 a.m. Turnout was steady at the Mauldin Cultural Center, head poll worker Emma Thompson said. A short line had formed by 7 am, she said.

Anderson County 9:25 a.m. Katy Smith, elections director in Anderson County said she was pleased to report everything was going smoothly. "Election workers are reporting that opening went smooth and that they like the new voting system," Smith said. "Voters have been sporadic but are coming out to vote in what has been described as a few at a time. No lines have been reported anywhere across the county."

Clemson 9:14 a.m. Just down the road from a Clemson University, Bernie Sanders Campaign volunteer Paul Greenstein, 22, set up shop in Moe Joe Coffee to help get people to the polls in Pickens County. The Clemson native said he’s been knocking on doors for weeks to canvass for Sanders and to not count Pickens County out in today’s Democratic vote.

“Yes it’s red, but we exist and matter,” The student said. “I’ve been knocking doors for awhile and you’d be surprised how many Sanders people are out there in Pickens.”

Richland County 8:47 a.m. At Bluff, the curbside voting options appears to have the longest line/wait, and workers are struggling to keep up with the demand. Some cars have up to four voters in car.

Aiken 8:46 a.m. A funeral is scheduled at St. Mary’s Church at 10 a.m., and poll workers at the adjoining hall are anxiously preparing. Joya DiStefano is worried voters won’t find a spot to park and just leave.

“I’m going to give the voters the benefit of the doubt,” DiStefano said. “I think they’ll come.”

Charleston 8:46 a.m. Latavia Coliman, 19, had an "I Voted" sticker on each cheek as she walked out of the polls in Charleston. She snapped selfies with her mother, Regina Duggins, to commemorate her first time voting as they left.

As a black woman, she said she didn’t take the right to vote lightly, and had been looking forward to casting her first ballot.

Duggins said she’s been bringing Coliman to the polls with her since she was a child.

“It makes me feel really proud,” Duggins said.

Both declined to share who they voted for, but said public education, the environment and healthcare were among their top issues.

Richland County 8:30 a.m. Claudella Outen, 67, came to vote in Richland County first thing. She had an early morning errand and drove around until the polls opened Saturday. She didn’t need any more time to decide who to vote for. She decided to vote for Tom Steyer two months ago. She trusts him, she says. He will do what he says he’s going to do.

Spartanburg County, 8:30 a.m. Elections Director Henry Laye said voting this morning across the county has been light following a heavy early voting turnout. He said he expects the pace to pick up through the day. "I think if we get 18,000 to 25,000 (total) it will be substantially more than in 2016," he said. Laye reports no problems at any polling places this morning. "It's normal questions by poll managers about the new machines," he said.

Richland County 8:28 a.m. At Bluff /Carswell Drive location in Richland County, one of the locations with the highest turnouts in 2016, there was a line when they opened. They served 55 voters in the first hour, many coming before heading on to work.

Spartanburg 8:26 a.m. Spartanburg County reported high turnout for absentee voting. Elections Director Henry Laye said 2,842 voters cast ballots early, "which is pretty good."

Lee County 8:22 a.m. Lee County voter registration director Stan Barnhill said all voting machines are running, and no problems have been reported. He said there were some growing pains as expected, but no major issues.  He also said voters are slow coming out, trickling in here and there.

Beaufort County 8:21 a.m. Turnout has been slow across three polling places in Beaufort County so far Saturday morning. At Robert Smalls International Academy in Burton, where the combination of two precincts voting here typically makes this one of the higher voter-turnout locations in the county, they’re behind their usual pace so far, with just 34 voters between both precincts as of 8:15 a.m. They typically get about 200-300 voters for certain elections, said poll manager Jennie Green, but “today we’re not going to make that.”

Aiken 8:14 a.m. Voters trickled in to the St. Mary’s Smith Hall in Aiken when doors opened at 7 a.m. By 8 a.m., 15 people had voted at the polling place, but poll workers said they expect it to pick up more in the afternoon.

Ron Cockerille, 70, said he voted for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders primarily because he wants the federal government to legalize marijuana.

“I like his medical approach to things, I like his approach to legalizing marijuana and restructuring the criminal justice system.”

Rock Hill 8:14 a.m. Ebinport Elementary in Rock Hill has seen 35 voters as of 8:13 a.m. A poll worker said it has been pretty steady, and voters seem to like the new machines.

Charleston 8:13 a.m. When asked what she was looking for in a candidate as she walked out of the Charleston Charter School for Math and Science, Anne Muldrow was quick with an answer. “We want someone who can beat Trump,” she said. She’d had trouble selecting a candidate until shortly before the primary, but finally decided on former Vice President Joe Biden after he received endorsements from U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn and Charleston Mayor John Tecklenberg. Her husband, Ralph Muldrow, however cast his ballot for Tom Steyer. “I think he’s a little more clear on his stance on issues than some of the other candidates,” Ralph Muldrow said of Steyer.

Clemson 8:11 a.m. At University Baptist Church in Clemson, just across the street from popular dive restaurant Mac’s Drive-In, voters finally started to come in just before 8 a.m.

“Oh, look at that! Let’s keep it up,” poll manager Donna Reid told her two poll workers as she pointed at the 19 names scribbled onto the sign-in sheet.

“Last I saw it we were at nine,” Reid said.

Allendale County 8:06 a.m. Stony Hartley, poll worker at Ulmer Town Hall in rural Allendale County, sat in a high-back chair behind a table with a blank paper for voters to sign. By 8 a.m. no one had opened the metal door to drop in and vote.

“It’s pretty quiet here,” she said. Lunch time will be busier, she said, as an occasional car passed by outside.

They don’t get many visits from candidates in Allendale, the smallest county in South Carolina with a population of 9,000, Hartley said. Pete Buttigieg stopped by a few months ago as did Cory Booker before he dropped out, and a few other candidates sent a representative, she said.

Greenville 7:56 a.m. At 7:56 a.m., Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden had yet to show up at the Phillis Wheatley Center in Greenville, but there was a lot of media there waiting in expectation.

a group of people standing in a parking lot: Media waits outside Phillis Wheatley Center in Greenville for Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden's appearance. Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. © Ken Ruinard/STAFF Media waits outside Phillis Wheatley Center in Greenville for Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden's appearance. Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.

Charleston 8 a.m. Voting has been steady at the Charleston Charter School for Math and Science, but had started to wane by about 8 a.m. Poll workers expected things to pick up as the morning went on.

Bishopville 7:56 a.m. At First Baptist Bishopville, one of the busiest precincts, Naomi Price, poll clerk, declares it will be a good day in the fellowship hall and outdoors where the sun is shining. Voters are slow coming out, she said, because it’s a Saturday but she expects the crowd to pick up. No voters in at the moment.

Rock Hill 7:53 a.m. York County registrations and elections director Wanda Hemphill said there are no county-wide issues with voting machines, but that some took a little time to set up because poll workers aren’t used to the new machines. “A lot of our poll workers are older and technology is a little scary for them,” Hemphill said.

“Voters were able to vote and that’s what’s important. Hemphill said almost every voting location in York County has seen at least a few voters within the first hour of polls opening.

Greenville 7:33 a.m. All polling places were opened within a few minutes of the 7 a.m. start time, according to Greenville County Elections Director Conway Belangia. There were a few small glitches early this morning, but nothing unusual, he said. 

Rock Hill 7:30 a.m. Polls didn't open at the Sunset Park Elementary precinct until 7:29 a.m. The Greenville News is checking to see if there were delays across the county or if delays were limited to this one polling place. 

Florence County 7:23 a.m. People came out bright and early to vote in Florence County. Polls just opened at 7 and there’s already a line.

Rock Hill 7:15 a.m. About 15 minutes after polls opened, poll workers at Sunset Park Elementary were still struggling to turn on the voting machines. 

“Those machines are about as slow as Burger King,” said voter Johnny Chisolm.

► Here's who people are voting for and why

Reporters Conor Hughes, Kirk Brown, Liv Osby, Daniel Gross, Lillia Callum-Penso, Mike Ellis, Genna Contino, Ariel Gilreath, Haley Walters, Zoe Nicholson, Gabe Cavallaro, Bob Montgomery and Dustin Wyatt contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on Greenville News: South Carolina primary: Live updates from polling sites across the state


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