After a pair of state Supreme Court decisions knocked hundreds of candidates of the ballot, many precincts were forced to close without anyone to vote for. With Justice Department officials watching some polling places and lawsuits looming on the horizon, it’s safe to say today’s primary will continue to make waves long after polls close this evening.
Palmetto Public Record had planned to bring you a nice collection of man-on-the-street interviews asking voters at precincts across the Midlands what they think about issues related to the primary. But soon after we posted up at our first precincts, we noticed one important element was missing: the voters.
Poll workers at Richland Co. Ward 23 on Devine Street said they’d seen exactly 20 voters by 2:00pm — usually a good turnout for the first hour of a primary election. Two precincts in West Columbia reported less than 35 voters each, less than five percent turnout in those districts.
Other precincts reported even lower turnout, with Spring Valley poll workers telling Patch that less than two percent of that precinct’s registered voters had participated in the primary by 2:00pm. Another Richland County precinct reported just 60 voters out of about 1,400 who were registered there.
Much of the light turnout was chalked up to the rainy weather and the confusion surrounding the primary process. But when this reporter speculated that turnout could rise now that the rain has stopped, one poll worker in West Columbia responded with a skeptical look.
“I’m just glad I brought a good book,” she said, as two other poll workers played catch outside the polling place doors.
In Fairfield and Williamsburg counties, Justice Department poll watchers are monitoring elections to ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act. Officials didn’t say whether they were looking for anything specific in those counties.
Polls close at 7:00pm, and election officials anticipate quick results due to the low turnout. Look for election updates from Palmetto Public Record throughout the day on the website and on Twitter at @PalmettoRecord.