Election Day arrives* (*Absentee voting has been way up in county, state)
FLORENCE, S.C. – The candidates running for national, state and local offices have spoken. The voters will speak today as the 2018 general election dawns.
Of course, many voters have been speaking themselves for more than a week since absentee voting began.
Absentee voting has increased for the 2018 mid-term elections.
According to Florence County Election Commission Executive Director David Alford, absentee voting is 30 to 40 percent higher than the 2014 mid-term elections. Alford said Florence County had sent out 10,000 paper ballots that will be returned by mail or in-person. Florence County, Alford added, had seen approximately 7,000 absentee ballots cast as of early Monday morning.
Statewide absentee balloting has increased from 157,000 during the last mid-term elections in 2014 to at least 230,000, according to numbers released Friday afternoon from the South Carolina Election Commission. That shattered the record for absentee ballots cast in a midterm election. It is 46 percent more absentee votes this year than the previous midterm record of 157,000 early votes in 2014. The numbers were sure to rise Monday.
The record for most early voters in any South Carolina election was in November 2016 when more than 500,000 absentee votes were cast.
South Carolina doesn’t have traditional early voting, but election offices are open in counties to allow in-person voting using absentee ballots.
The state election commission’s numbers include mail-in absentee ballots but don’t break down voting by age or other demographic information.
There are 16 reasons a person can cast an absentee ballot in South Carolina including members of the armed forces serving in a non-residential county, persons serving with the Red Cross or USO, persons living overseas, those that are physically disabled, those attending school in a non-residential county, those vacationing on election day, those who can’t vote for reasons of employment and those on jury duty.
Those who did not vote early will be able to cast a ballot beginning at 7 a.m. today. The polls will remain open until 7 p.m. Any person in line by 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote.
In Florence County, national races up for election include U.S. House Districts 6 and 7. Florence County is split between the two districts. The majority of the county is in District 7; a portion of the southern part of the county is in District 6.
Statewide, the races include governor, secretary of state, treasurer, attorney general, superintendent of education, agricultural commissioner and comptroller general. Republican Hugh Weathers faces third-party opposition in the agricultural commissioner race, and Republican Richard Eckstrom is uncontested in the comptroller general race.
Florence County’s seats in the South Carolina House of Representatives are up for election. Those seats include House Districts 59, 60, 61, 62, 63. Districts 59 and 61 are uncontested.
Locally, five seats, Seats, 1, 3, 6, 7, and 8, on the Florence County Council and four seats on the Florence City Council, Seats 1, 2, 3, and an at-large seat, are up for election. None of these races is contested.
The probate judge race between Republican Jesse Cartrette Jr. and Democrat Rebecca McGill and the uncontested auditor race is also on the ballot.
Five seats – Seats 3, 5, 6, 8 and 9 – on the Florence One Schools board of trustees are up for election. Six seats – Seats 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 – on the Florence County School District Three board are up for election. Three seats – Seats 1, 4 and an at-large seat – on the Florence County School District Five board are also up for election.
There are also four seats – mayor and Seats, 1, 3 and 6 – on the city council of Lake City up for election.
Also, there are two ballot questions: one asking if the state superintendent of education should continue to be elected and one asking if Florence County should allow on-premises Sunday alcohol sales.
Sunday alcohol sales also are on the ballot in Darlington County, as is a courthouse referendum.
A capital sales tax referendum is on the ballot in Darlington County.