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South Carolina called for Donald Trump; Vote counts coming in statewide

Photo: Getty Images

By Patrick Phillips | November 3, 2020 at 2:35 PM EST - Updated November 3 at 8:23 PM

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - Donald Trump won South Carolina’s nine electoral votes, according to a projection from the Associated Press.

CLICK HERE to see election returns as they come in. Click the green “More Elections” button to select between the presidential race, statewide and local election returns.

CBS News' Battleground Tracker predicted Trump would win the state over former Vice President Joe Biden by a 7-point lead.

Trump called into “Fox & Friends,” where he predicted he will win by a larger electoral margin than he did in 2016, when he tallied 306 electoral college votes compared to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 232.

Trump invited hundreds of supporters to an election night party in the East Room of the White House.

The first polls closed at 6 p.m. Eastern time in swaths of Indiana and Kentucky, followed by a steady stream of poll closings every 30 minutes to an hour throughout the evening. The last polls in Alaska shut down at 1 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday.

The hard-fought campaign left voters on both sides eager to move on, although the national result might not be known for days.

Trump left open the possibility of addressing the nation Tuesday, even if a winner isn’t yet determined. Biden, too, promised a speech.

S.C. voters will decide key U.S. Senate, House races

Voters in South Carolina will also decide between incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison in the state’s most expensive Senate contest. Graham is seeking his fourth term on Tuesday and faces his most stalwart general election opponent to date in Harrison.

The contest has been propelled by an onslaught of spending from both candidates and a slew of third-party groups. Harrison has bested all Senate fundraising records, becoming the first candidate to amass a war chest of more than $100 million. Graham told The Associated Press he also raised about $100 million, with a third-quarter haul of $28 million representing a new GOP quarterly record.

The election will also decide the most expensive U.S. House race in South Carolina history as Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham tries to hold on to the seat he managed to flip from Republicans in 2018.

Cunningham takes on Republican state Rep. Nancy Mace on Tuesday in the district that stretches from Hilton Head Island to Charleston. He was the first Democrat to flip a U.S. House seat from Republicans in the state since 1986, and national Republicans started targeting his seat just days after his election in the hopes of regaining a majority in the House. The candidates have spent a combined $10 million.

Statewide, four women are trying to defeat incumbent U.S House members. South Carolina has only sent one woman to Congress for a full term with the last time in 1990.

The only other race in South Carolina already called is the Sixth Congressional Race, where incumbent Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn had 73% of the vote over Republican challenger John McCollum, who had 27%.

Shorter Election Day lines expected after record early voting

Election officials were expecting shorter lines Tuesday because of record numbers of voters casting ballots ahead of Election Day.

Polling records showed that as of Tuesday morning, more than half of registered voters in Charleston County already voted absentee. Berkeley County officials said more than a third of their registered voters had already cast their ballot either by mail or in-person absentee ahead of Election Day.

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The State Election Commission reported Monday that 1.2 million people had already voted by Tuesday. That more than doubles the previous record for absentee voting, set when 503,000 people voted absentee in the 2016 general election.

Safeguards established in the June primaries because of the coronavirus pandemic will still be in place.

Both the state Democratic and Republican parties will also have trained poll watchers at voting locations and attorneys on hand.

Dorchester County election officials reported a snag with mail-in ballots late Tuesday afternoon. County elections Executive Director Todd Billman said a printing error prevented machines from being able to read the votes. They are looking at solutions to get the ballots processed and say they expect the votes to be counted by the time the county’s election results are due to be certified on Friday morning.

“We will make sure your vote counts and is counted accurately,” Billman said.

Approximately 15,000 ballots went out to Dorchester County voters and approximately 13,500 have been received, he said.

Billman also said the vendor who printed Dorchester County’s mail-in ballots printed ballots for other counties, but said they have learned that Dorchester County is the only one affected by the printing problem.

Some have reported longer lines, but others say there has been little to no wait at their polling places. At Burke High School, there were no lines earlier on Tuesday. The polling manager said 324 people had voted by mid-morning and 1,500 voted early.

But a Berkeley County voter sent a photo of the line Tuesday morning at Stratford High School saying he had been in line for 45 minutes and estimated he would reach a voting machine within about 10 minutes.

State election officials said last week they were confident that voters in South Carolina would know by election night or the next day the results of the 2020 races in the Palmetto State.

Part of the reason for the confidence is that state lawmakers approved a change to the process that allowed county election officials to begin opening the first mail-in ballots on Sunday and begin processing the ballots at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

State Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said some counties are expected to be done counting all of their ballots Tuesday night.

Copyright 2020 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.

Photo: Live 5 News

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