Sumter sees low primary turnout

Officials say no problems with machines, lines

BY KAYLA ROBINS
kayla@theitem.com
Posted 6/14/18

Most of the primary races that were on ballots in Sumter, Clarendon and Lee counties on Tuesday were decided until November, though two statewide nominations will be re-voted on in two weeks.

Sumter election results will be certified at a public …

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Sumter sees low primary turnout

Officials say no problems with machines, lines

Posted

Most of the primary races that were on ballots in Sumter, Clarendon and Lee counties on Tuesday were decided until November, though two statewide nominations will be re-voted on in two weeks.

Sumter election results will be certified at a public meeting on the second floor of the old courthouse at 10 a.m., according to Pat Jefferson, director of Sumter County Voter Registration and Elections. All local boards must certify their results by 10 a.m. to send to the state to certify all results.

"We have five provisional ballots that will be presented at the hearing," Jefferson said.

She said the 17.1 percent turnout was "a little lower" than normal for a primary election in Sumter but that she understands why people don't vote in primaries.

"Most people vote for the person and not for the party, and with both primaries being held on the same day, people have to make a choice," she said. "A lot of people will say, 'If my candidate is chosen, I'll vote for them in November.'"

Most of the 58 precincts saw a steady crowd throughout the day, and there were no reports of broken or malfunctioning machines, Jefferson said.

Of the 65,952 registered voters, 11,275 cast a ballot. According to South Carolina Election Commission data, that is the sixth worst turnout in the state.

Ten precincts saw a turnout of 10 percent or lower in Sumter, with the lowest being the Shaw precinct. The 13 people who went to the poll of the 503 registered is a 2.58 percent turnout. The precinct with the highest turnout was Salem, which had 22.33 percent, or 90 people vote of 403 who were registered.

Those who did not vote in the primary and those who chose the Republican ballot on Tuesday can vote on June 26 in two runoff races applicable to Sumter, Lee and Clarendon counties, Jefferson said. Voters must have already been registered.

Those runoffs will be between Gov. Henry McMaster and Greenville businessman John Warren, who are set to debate once more before Republicans will know who their nomination will be, according to The Associated Press.

McMaster was the top vote-getter but only secured 42 percent of the vote, allowing Warren's 28 percent to slide him into a runoff.

The winner will face Democratic Rep. James Smith of Columbia and American Party candidate Martin Barry in November.

Two more Republicans are set to square off in two weeks for the attorney general nomination.

Attorney General Alan Wilson was forced into a runoff with state Rep. Todd Atwater after falling just more than 1 percent short of winning outright, according to the unofficial results.

Either Wilson or Atwater will be on the ballot against Democrat Constance Anastopoulo in November.

A third scheduled runoff may not be on the Sumter ballot, but it does have a connection to the county.

In the 2nd Congressional District race, retired Army veteran Sean Carrigan of Chapin will face off against Annabelle Robertson of West Columbia in a Democratic runoff. Robertson used to work at The Sumter Item.

The winner of that race will face incumbent Republican Joe Wilson and American Party candidate Sonny Narang in November.

In Lee County, 2,775 ballots were cast in 22 precincts, 24.23 percent of the 11,452 registered voters, according to the election commission. Eight precincts saw between 20 to 30 percent turnout, two had between 30 to 40 percent, and Elliott recorded 41.04 percent turnout.

Stan Barnhill, director of the Lee County Voter Registration and Elections, said the day went without issues.

Other than the state races, Lee voters chose who they wanted on their Democratic ticket for School Board Districts 5 and 6. Regitt James and incumbent Nathaniel Brunson will run unopposed in November.

"People were pleased with the results," Barnhill said.

Clarendon County saw a 23.89 percent turnout through its 25 precincts, with seven precincts getting to between 20 to 30 percent and Barrows Mill reaching 35.17 percent, according to the election commission.

Two council county races saw the incumbent retain the seat. Billy Richardson in District 1 and Benton Blakely in District 3 will run unopposed in November.

Coroner Bucky Mock lost to challenger LaNette Samuels-Cooper amid claims she was not qualified for the job. She received 57 percent of the votes.

Shirley Black-Oliver, director of the Clarendon County Voter Registration and Elections, was out of the office Wednesday.

Statewide, both Democratic and Republican primary voters overwhelmingly approved questions their parties put on the ballot.

Democrats said they support medical marijuana and taking federal money to expand Medicaid in South Carolina. Republicans said they support bringing the South Carolina tax code into "conformity with the new Trump tax cuts" and requiring voters to register for a party.