UNION COUNTY — Absentee voting for the June 12 Republican and Democratic primaries is now under way and because of that Union County residents who won’t be able to go to the polls that day can now go ahead and vote in the primary of their choice.
Who Can Vote Absentee?
The first question that comes to mind when considering voting absentee is “Am I qualified to vote absentee?” The answer is “yes,” if you fall into one of the following categories of voters qualified to vote absentee:
1. Students attending school outside their county of residence and their spouses and dependents.
2. Members of the Armed Forces or Merchant Marine serving outside their county of residence and their spouses and dependents residing with them. (Visit www.scvotes.org/military-overseas-citizens for more information.)
3. Persons serving with the American Red Cross or United Service Organizations (USO) serving with the Armed Forces outside their county of residence and their spouses and dependents. (Visit www.scvotes.org/military-overseas-citizens for more information.)
4. Persons who, for reasons of employment, will not be able to vote on election day.
5. Physically disabled persons.
6. Government employees serving outside their county of residence on Election Day and their spouses and dependents residing with them.
7. Persons with a death or funeral in the family within three days before the election.
8. Persons who plan to be on vacation outside their county of residence on Election Day.
9. Certified poll watchers, poll managers, and county election officials working on Election Day.
10. Overseas Citizens. (Visit www.scvotes.org/military-overseas-citizens for more information.)
11. Persons attending sick or physically disabled persons.
12. Persons admitted to the hospital as emergency patients on Election Day or within a four-day period before the election.
13. Persons serving as a juror in state or federal court on Election Day.
14. Persons sixty-five years of age or older.
15. Persons confined to a jail or pre-trial facility pending disposition of arrest or trial.
How Do You Vote Absentee?
Once you know the answer the first question, the second question is “How do I vote absentee?” The answer to that is there are two ways to vote absentee: in person and by mail.
To vote in person in Union County, visit the Union County Voter Registrar’s Office, 1246 South Duncan Bypass, Union. Two voting machines are set up at the Voter Registrar’s Office for those wanting to vote absentee. You may vote absentee in person up until 5 p.m. Monday, June 11.
Then there’s voting by mail, but those considering doing so should consider the fact that it takes first class mail 2-5 days to reach its destination. All absentee ballots must be at the Union County Voter Registrar’s Office by the close of voting on June 12.
To get an absentee ballot to vote by mail you can either go online at scVOTES.org and get application for one (info.scvotes.sc.gov/eng/voterinquiry/VoterInformationRequest.aspx?PageMode=AbsenteeRequest). If you do decide to get an absentee ballot online, make certain you are able to print your application.
The other way to get an absentee ballot is to request an application from the Union County Voter Registrar’s Office by phone, mail, email, or fax and you will be mailed one.
Once you get your application, complete and sign it and as soon as possible, mail, fax or email it to the Union County Voter Registrar’s Office. Voters who return applications by 5 p.m. Friday, June 8 will be mailed a ballot.
When you get your ballot and cast your votes, follow the balloting instructions and return it to Union County Voter Registrar’s Office by no later than 7 p.m. on June 12. The ballot may be returned personally or by mail.
Choosing A Primary
Since there will be both Democratic and Republican primaries on June 12, another question that comes to mind, both for those voting absentee and those voting in person, is “Can I vote in both primaries?” The answer to that questions is “No you may not. You have to choose one or the other.”
The Democratic and Republican parties are holding separate primaries to select their candidates for the November general election and so voters in Union County must choose which primary they will vote in. Persons who go to the polls on June 16 will have to choose between the two parties and so will persons looking to vote absentee. Those voting in person will have to tell the poll workers which party primary they want to vote in and vote only in that primary on June 12. Those looking to vote absentee must request either a Democratic or Republican primary ballot and vote only in that primary as well.
If in the event there is a runoff in any of the races in either primary — a strong possibility given that a number of races have more that two candidates running — those who voted Democrat or Republican in the primary must vote that same party in the runoff.
When the November general election rolls around, however, voters can vote for candidates of both parties as well as for the various minor party candidates who will also be on the ballot at that time.
What’s On The Ballots?
Given that voters have to choose between the Democratic and Republican primaries, the next question(s) that comes to mind is “What’s on the Democratic ballot? What’s on the Republican ballot?” Here’s the answers to those questions.
The following races will be the on the June 12 Democratic ballot in Union County:
• Union County Treasurer
Kacie Petrie and Debbie Robertson are seeking the Democratic nomination for this office. No Republicans are running so the winner of the primary will be Union County’s next Treasurer.
• Union County Council District 1
Marie Knox, Mary Pacolette Genoble, and Tracie Farr Campbell are seeking the Democratic nomination for the seat. No Republicans are running so the winner of the primary or, if one is needed, the runoff, will represent District 1 on Union County Council.
• US House of Representatives District 5
Archie Parnell, Steve Lough, Mark Ali, and Sidney Moore are seeking the Democratic nomination for this seat. The winner of the primary or, if one is needed, the runoff, will face incumbent Republican Ralph Norman.
Marguerite Willis, James Smith, and Phil Noble are seeking the Democratic nomination for this office. The winner of the primary or, if one is needed, the runoff, will face the winner of the Republican primary/runoff.
• Advisory Questions
The Democratic primary also features two non-biding advisory questions requiring yes or no answers. The questions are:
1. Do you support passing a state law allowing doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to patients?
2. Do you support passing a state law requiring the governor of South Carolina to accept all federal revenues offered to support Medicaid and Medicaid expansion in the state?
The following races will be on the June 12 Republican ballot in Union County:
• SC House District 42
Doug Gilliam, Phillip Russell, and Brooks Carwile are seeking the Republican nomination for this seat. No Democrats are running so the winner of the primary or, if one is needed, the runoff, will represent District 42 in the SC House of Representatives.
Catherine Templeton, Kevin Bryant, Henry McMaster (incumbent), John Warren, and John Yancey McGill are seeking the Republican nomination for this office. The winner of the primary or, if one is needed, the runoff, will will face Democrat Melvin T. Whittenburg.
• Attorney General
Todd Atwater, Alan Wilson (incumbent), and William D. Herlong are seeking the Republican nomination for this office. The winner of the primary or, if one is needed, the runoff, will will face Democrat Constance Anastopoulo.
• Advisory Questions
The Republican primary also features two non-biding advisory questions requiring yes or no answers. The questions are:
1. Do you believe that voters should have the option to choose to affiliate with a political party when they register to vote or change their voter affiliation in South Carolina?
2. Do you believe that South Carolina’s tax code should be brought into conformity with the new Trump tax cuts in the federal tax code for maximum simplification and to lower the overall tax burden on South Carolina taxpayers and businesses?
For more information about the June 12 primaries, voting absentee, and any other voting-related questions call the Union County Voter Registrar’s Office at 864-429-1616.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.