Absentee ballots at record number for primary

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — While state officials predict a record turnout of as many as 650,000 voters in the Republican presidential primary, one of the factors helping to keep voting lines short is the record number of absentee ballots that were returned this year.

About 59,000 absentee ballots have been returned, compared to 27,000 four years ago.

State Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said possible reasons for the sharp increase in absentee voting include campaign efforts to get voters to vote absentee, more awareness of how to do it because of the Internet and social media, early voting in neighboring states influencing people in South Carolina to vote early with absentee ballots and the desire to skip long lines on the day of the election.

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