CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Precincts across South Carolina are seeing heavy voter turnout for the midterm elections.
State Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said Tuesday reports of moderate to heavy turnout have been coming in from across the state. Some polling places are reporting long lines through the afternoon.
That matches an increase in absentee ballots cast. In the previous two midterm elections, there were just over 70,000 ballots cast. This year, there have been more than 142,000, with ballots still being counted.
It's not clear yet if turnout will surpass previous midterm elections. About 1.1 million South Carolina voters cast ballots in 2006, roughly 45 percent of those registered.
Polls close at 7 p.m., but anyone in line by then will be allowed to vote.
The race for governor between Republican Nikki Haley and Democrat Vincent Sheheen, as well as several key congressional races highlight the midterm election in South Carolina.
In the Lowcountry, lots of issues were reported from voters on Folly Beach. According to reports, District 2 voters have access to only two machines.
Voters in Hollywood say they have been waiting for over 2 hours at polling locations. Voters at Ladson Elementary say they have been waiting over an hour to vote, but that they have seen a good turnout so far.
The poll manager at The Charleston County Masonic Center, which serves St. Andrew's precincts 12, 13 and 21, says there were lines when they opened this morning, but it has been steady since. The only issue they've seen is the machines are set for 3 minutes per voter, but with all the questions on the ballot, it takes closer to 10 to complete if the voter has to read the whole amendment or county question. Everything else has been smooth so far.
Voters have also reported a line out the door at James Island High School. The wait to vote there was about 30 minutes. One viewer waited over two hours to vote.
In Dorchester County, officials are reporting long lines, but say that the lines are moving smoothly and the wait isn't too long. At Fort Dorchester High School they are reporting better turnout than the 2008 Presidential elections.
Fort Dorchester Elementary School officials say they've been steady so far today with no problems.
The campaigns by Haley and Sheheen to replace Gov. Mark Sanford are the most expensive in state history. Polls opened at 7 a.m. and are scheduled to close at 7 p.m.
Sheheen cast his vote earlier this morning with his family in his hometown of Camden. Sheheen will make three stops in Orangeburg to visit with voters before heading back to Columbia as the election results start rolling in.
Haley also voted earlier this morning in her hometown of Lexington. Haley will also be in Columbia with supporters to watch election results.
About 130,000 absentee ballots - a record for midterm elections - were cast before Election Day. But election officials are unsure whether that means more voter interest this year or just that people are more comfortable voting absentee.
In Charleston County, voters will decide if they are in favor if the penny sales tax, which would pay for school building improvement projects.
Voters will decide eight statewide races in addition to the race for governor. Voters will choose from incumbent Republican Jim DeMint, Democrat Alvin Greene Manning, and Green Party candidate Tom Clements for U.S. Senate.
Stay with Live5News.com for live updates throughout the day from various polling places across the Lowcountry. Live5News.com will also bring you live updates as soon as the polls close. You can also participate in our live blog beginning at 7 p.m. You can ask questions and comment. Live5News.com will have reporters located across the state sending back updates from candidate events.
Tuesday 's weather will be cooler than normal with highs in the mid 60's. Clouds will steadily increase on Election Day for the Lowcountry. A 20 percent chance of showers is possible around the drive time home. Clouds and showers will stay possible overnight with lows in the lower 50's.
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