Absentee turnout points to busy Election Day for Georgetown County

Absentee balloting points to a large turnout on Election Day, and Georgetown County voters are advised to come with their minds made up and ready to wait a bit.

Donna Mahn, the county director of registrations and elections, said that as of Thursday afternoon, more than 7,300 absentee ballots had been cast in person or by mail.

That could signal a record turnout, but in any case a large one is expected.

In 2008, in the last presidential election, the county had a 79.8 percent voter turnout, with 30,290 casting ballots. That year, 38,493 were registered.

By comparison, the 2010 election, with no presidential candidate on the ballot, drew a 53.3 percent turnout.

This year, 40,145 are registered to vote. But, Mahn pointed out, there are no additional voting machines, so people should go in a good frame of mind and realize that they won’t be able to duck in and out for a quick vote.

However, all polling places should have the laptops that poll managers can use to find registered voters and check them in, rather than using the paper books. That should speed things up some, Mahn said.

People should already have their mind made up when they arrive, including for the statewide constitutional referendum on how the lieutenant governor is elected, and on the county sales tax referendum.

Voters should be ready with one of the three required identifications, either their voter registration card, or a driver’s license, or photo ID from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

“And be patient,” Mahn said.

Anyone who may be unable to get to the polls Tuesday may still vote absentee in person Monday at the elections office on Hazard Street.

The sales tax referendum asks voters if they want to add a penny of sales tax for each dollar, for eight years, to fund port dredging, fire stations, libraries and recreational facilities. County voters have turned down three sales tax votes in the past.

Besides those issues and votes for president, vice president and the new 7th Congressional District, county voters will choose among eight contested races. For 11 others, a candidate is running unopposed.

The only countywide contested races are those for auditor, sheriff and clerk of court. Auditor Linda Mock is not seeking re-election, and three people want the job.

Auditor’s clerk Kathy Harrelson, a petition candidate, is vying with Rod Stalvey, also a petition candidate, and Republican newcomer Brian Shult.

Clerk of Court Alma White, a Democrat, is being challenged by newcomer Tammie Avant.

Republican Sheriff Lane Cribb, in office 10 years, is challenged by petition candidate Darryel Carr, a former deputy.

County Council District 5, which includes the Andrews and Pleasant Hill area, has three hopefuls including Republican incumbent Austin Beard. Petition candidates C.C. “Bubba” Grimes and Ben Dunn are seeking to oust him.

In state House District 103, incumbent Rep. Carl Anderson, a Democrat, is facing a challenge from newcomer Tom Winslow, a petition candidate. The district includes most of the eastern part of the county except Waccamaw Neck.

Three school board seats elected by district in nonpartisan races are contested. In District 3, the southern portion of the county, incumbent Sandra Johnson is being challenged by Gene Reggie Footman.

In District 5, the northern part of the county, Murray Vernon is running against incumbent Elery L. Little.

And in an open seat for Waccamaw Neck, Richard Kerr and Peggy Wheeler-Cribb are vying for the nod.