Editorial

Editorial | 6 Votes? Long, Lonely Day for Poll Workers

March 28, 2013 

Hat’s off to the voters in Nichols.

Alone among Horry County’s 120 precincts, the folks of the Spring Branch precinct in Nichols – in the far northwest corner of Horry County – turned out more than a quarter of their voters on Tuesday. The Hickory Hill precinct in Loris was the only other polling place to record more than a fifth of their registered voters at the polls.

Yes, this was not a presidential election. It was a special primary runoff election (it would be hard to come up with more special circumstances or ways to depress turnout). There had not been months and months of coverage and lead up to the decision. We suspect many voters likely didn’t even know an election was taking place. But the lack of engagement and interest by so many of the county’s voters was still disappointing. Without a Democratic challenger in the race, the decision made Tuesday effectively makes Mark Lazarus the next Horry County Council chairman. And while we have no problem or concern with the decision, the fact that it was made by only 6.46 percent of the county’s voters is frankly depressing.

The turnout in some precincts was ludicrous. Atlantic Beach, for instance, saw six voters all day long. That’s one voter every two hours. And yet it wasn’t even the precinct with the worst turnout. That dubious honor went to Racepath No. 2 in Myrtle Beach, where just 1.34 percent of the precinct’s registered voters took the 10 minutes out of their day to have a voice in how they are governed.

We have no wish to launch into a long-winded, patronizing sermon about our patriotic duty as citizens to cast our ballots. We recognize that for many folks, voting might be hard to work into their busy days. Others might not feel well enough informed or simply might not have cared which of the two candidates won on Tuesday, thinking them either equally favorable or equally unsupportable. After the less than 8 percent turnout in the special primary two weeks ago, we weren’t expecting 80 percent turnout or lines of citizens stretching down the block. It’s just disheartening to see so few of our neighbors interested in having a say in how their day-to-day lives are governed. A turnout percentage at least in the double digits would have been nice. As it was, assuming the folks that voted Tuesday were the same ones that voted two weeks ago, the state paid about $11 per voter to hold the two elections.

Now that the ballots are in and counted, there’s little point in stressing again how much influence the council chairman – and all county councilmen – can have over the lives of county residents, from taxes to zoning to ordinances about which laser pointers you can buy. Instead, we’ll just say once more: If you didn’t vote on Tuesday, don’t bother complaining on Wednesday.

Where was turnout best? The small dots are precincts which saw less than the meager 6.46 percent county average on Tuesday. Flags are precincts that beat that number.

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