Tuesday’s Democratic and Republican primaries will be a very simple and straightforward affair, except for the question of which Union County residents will have the opportunity to vote in one or both of the two races remaining on the ballot and which will not get to vote at all.
The simplification of Tuesday’s primaries began in May when the State Supreme Court ruled that candidates must provide their party with a paper copy of their statement of economic interest regardless of whether they’d filed it electronically. Prior to the court’s ruling there were 17 candidates — 13 Democrats and four Republicans — running in Tuesday’s primaries and/or the November general election in Union County. Of those, six — five Democrats and one Republican — were incumbents and 11 — eight Democrats and three Republicans — were challengers.
In the aftermath of the court’s ruling, the number of candidates still on the ballot fell to eight — six Democrats and two Republicans — all but two of them incumbents. The other seven Democrats and two Republicans were removed from the ballot by their respective parties because they’d failed to provide the parties with a paper copy of their statement of economic interest when they filed to run as required by the court.
As a result of the court’s ruling and the subsequent actions by the local parties in response to that ruling, Tuesday’s primaries went from having five contested races among Democrats — Union County Sheriff and the Union County Council Districts 2, 3, 5, and 6 seats — to just one for the District 5 seat where incumbent councilman Randall “Chump” Hanvey is being challenged for the Democratic nomination by former school board member John Rampey.
On the GOP side, the four Republican candidates were unopposed for their party’s nomination for the local offices — the SC House District 42 seat, Union County Clerk of Court, Union County Sheriff, and the District 3 Union County Council seat — they were seeking. The only contested race on the Republican side is for the GOP nomination for the seat representing SC Senate District 18, only part of which is in Union County. Seeking the Republican nomination in District 18 are Rich Bolen, Ronnie Cromer, Alan Hunter, and Karen Gormley Meador.
In addition to reducing the number of contested races in the primary, the court’s decision has also reduced the number of voters who will have the opportunity to vote in the primary.
Union County Election Commission Chairman Keith Vanderford said that as a result of the court’s decision 11 of the county’s 23 precincts will be closed. Those precincts are:
• Buffalo Box 1
• Cross Keys
• East Buffalo
• Jonesville Box 1
• Jonesville Box 2
• West Springs
While the remaining 12 precincts will be open, Vanderford said which race voters are able to cast their ballots in will vary from precinct to precinct. He said it will also vary within precincts where some voters will be able to vote in both races, some in only one and others in none.
“The reason some people can vote and some people can’t, is because of the way the district lines are drawn,” Vanderford said.
The Black Rock, Carlisle, and Santuc precincts are part of the Union County portion of SC Senate District 18. Vanderford said voters there will only be able to vote in the Republican primary, but that all registered voters in those precincts will be eligible to vote in the State Senate race.
The following precincts are part of Union County Council District 5:
• Ward 1 Box 1
• Ward 1 Box 2
• Ward 2
• Ward 3
• Ward 4 Box 1
• Ward 4 Box 2
While these precincts are part of District 5, Vanderford said not all voters in those precincts will be able to vote in the District 5 primary. In Ward 1 Box 1, only 162 registered voters are eligible to vote in the Democratic primary while only 171 are eligible to vote in Ward 1 Box 2. In Ward 3, 418 voters are eligible to vote while 77 and 344 are eligible to vote in Ward 4 Box 1 and Ward 4 Box 2, respectively. Only in Ward 2 are all registered voters eligible to vote in the District 5 race.
There are only three precincts — Excelsior, Monarch Box 1, and Monarch Box 2 — where the SC Senate District 18 and the Union County Council District 5 races are both on the ballot. Once again, however, not all registered voters in those precincts will be eligible to vote. In Excelsior, all registered voters are eligible to cast their ballots in the Republican primary but only 261 are eligible to vote in the Democratic primary. In Monarch Box 1, 103 voters are eligible to vote in the District 18 race and 111 eligible to vote in the District 5 race. In Monarch Box 2, all are eligible to vote Republican but only 104 are eligible to vote Democrat.
Even though eligibility will vary from precinct to precinct and within precincts, Vanderford said voters will still have to tell poll workers which primary — Democrat or Republican — they want to vote in.
Anyone with questions about whether or not they will be eligible to vote in Tuesday’ s primary should call the Union County Voter Registrar’s Office at 429-1616.