Officials expecting higher than normal turnout
by The Press and Standard | November 1, 2018 5:00 pm
Last Updated: October 31, 2018 at 10:06 am
When a presidential race isn’t on the November General Election ballot, voter turnout tends to drop off.
That might not happen this year if the number of registered voters and absentee ballots are a reliable yardstick.
Colleton County Voter Registration and Elections Director Angela Upchurch said that during a recent conference call held with the South Carolina Election Commission state election officials reported that as this November’s election was approaching, the number of registered voters had doubled from the numbers seen in the 2014 November General Election. The numbers were also showing, Upchurch added, that the number of people seeking to vote absentee has increased by 75 percent when compared to the 2014 election figures.
In 2014, the state had 2,861,052 voters registered; 43.79 percent of them cast a ballot in that election.
In 2014 Colleton County had 23,414 voters, and 47.04 percent of them voted. It is likely that the issues on the ballot, as opposed to the candidate races, caused Colleton County’s turnout. The November 2014 ballot had contained the county’s Capital Project Sales Tax question and the Colleton School District’s bid for a property tax increase to construct a new Bells Elementary School.
Back in 2014, over 1,800 absentee ballots were cast in Colleton County. Upchurch said that as of Oct. 22, her office had handled a total of 1,150 absentee ballots casted either by walk-in traffic at the voter registration and election office or paper ballots received in the mail.
In late October, Democrat Israel Romero withdrew from his bid to unseat South Carolina Education Superintendent Molly Spearman. He pulled out of the race after upstate newspapers report that Romero was not allowed to run. According to state law, a convicted felon has to wait for 15 after completing his sentence before he can run for public office. Romero was convicted in federal court of passing himself off as an attorney in 2008.
Although he left the race, Romero’s name will still be on the ballot, according to Upchurch. The state did not have time to redo all the electronic and paper ballots to remove his name.
The fact that the county is part of four different South Carolina House of Representative Districts, is divided into two Congressional Districts and has a school board and county council that are made up by representatives of different districts has led to Upchurch’s office to deal with 28 different ballot combinations for this election.
Upchurch said that the polling places for voters in the November election have not changed, but that voters at the Hendersonville precinct will be entering Hendersonville Elementary School through the main entrance of the school to vote.
To accommodate last-minute absentee voters, the local election office will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 3.
The polls will be open on Nov. 6 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Voters are asked to provide one of the following photo IDs at their polling place:
• S.C. driver’s license
• ID card issued by S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles
• S.C. voter registration card with Photo
• Federal military ID
• U.S. passport
If you have one of these IDs, you are ready to vote. Voters should remember to bring one of these IDs with them to the polling place. Voters without photo ID can get one free of charge from the Department of Motor Vehicles or the county voter registration office. Voters who encounter an obstacle to getting a photo ID should bring their paper voter registration card without a photo with them to their polling place. These voters can then sign an affidavit swearing to their identity and to their obstacle to obtaining a photo ID and vote a provisional ballot. This ballot will count unless the county board of voter registration and elections has grounds to believe the affidavit is false. For more information on photo ID, visit scVOTES.org or contact the county board of voter registration and elections (843-549-2842).
At 11 a.m. on Nov. 6, the County Board of Voter Registration and Elections will begin its examination of the absentee ballot return envelopes at the Colleton County Board of Voter Registration and Elections Office, 2471 Jefferies Blvd. (old PRTC building), Walterboro.
At 11 a.m. on Nov. 9, the members of the county’s voter registration and election commission will meet at the office at 2471 Jefferies Blvd. to certify the vote.