UPDATE: Where Are The Voters?
Today's primary day runs across the state, and folks in the Midlands will be deciding a slate of county and statewide races.
Updated, 5 p.m. -- Primary elections typically are slow and generate little turnout compared to a general election, but this year may turn out even worse than normal.
As of 5 p.m., several precincts in Richland County were running below average, with barely handfuls of voters having cast their ballots. In some places turnout was running less than two percent of registered voters — though poll workers were looking forward (hopefully) to an uptick once people got off work.
Part of the reason, poll workers figured, was a dearth of races in areas where candidates have been kicked off the ballot, thanks to last month's state Supreme Court ruling mandating that candidates who didn't properly file for their races be removed from primary contention.
"I'm a little ticked ... it's not fair to voters," poll worker Nathaniel Whitlaw said of the ballot mess, while sitting with fellow poll workers in a voter-less precinct around 5 p.m. at St. Andrews Middle School, where the only race in contention was the Senate District 20 race between Democrats Robert Rikard and Norman Jackson.
A fellow poll worker mentioned that several voters at the precinct — where only 55 of 1,275 registered voters had voted as of 5 p.m. — had complained of the ballot imbroglio, too.
"There was no big rush for lunch, or in the morning," she added. "Its just been a slow day."
Calls to the Richland County elections office seeking late-day updates on voter turnout went unreturned, but other poll workers across the Midlands reported the same lethargic turnout.
"We don't have many voters, but we have quality voters," laughed poll worker Richard Walker at the Spring Valley precinct at Lonnie B. Nelson Elementary School, which was entirely devoid of voters around 2 p.m.
By mid-afternoon, just 38 of 2,400 registered voters had cast a ballot there — or 45, if counting absentee ballots. That's a turnout of around 1.8 percent, noted fellow poll worker Joseph Scott.
Scott, and his wife Kelly, said that in addition to the ballot mess, many voters hadn't realized there was even an election today until they had left home and heard about it from others.
At the Harbison #2 precinct in St. Andrews, a poll worker there said that by late afternoon just 16 people had cast ballots in that precinct's only contest — the District 2 GOP Congressional race — which typically would draw greater numbers.
Another poll worker at the Valhalla precinct at Spring Valley High School — where only 23 out of 2,291 people had voted — remarked, "It's been really slow today.... Its just been a very unusual day."
Original story: Voters began trekking to the polls at 7 a.m. this morning, as the kickoff of the state's election season officially begins.
Today is primary day across the state, and in the Midlands voters will be making their picks in a number of races, including Congress as well as county and statewide races for the House and Senate.
In what has been the craziest primary season, arguably, in the state's history, some 215 people have been kicked off the ballot across the state. Many races today that would have had challengers will go instead to incumbents. However, many of those candidates kicked off the ballots will likely be out in force at local polling places seeking signatures to get on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.
So far this morning, turnout has been light in Spring Valley, though polling managers expect larger turnouts during the lunch hour and when voters get off work, as is typical. Polls close at 7 p.m.
Voters who want to catch up on all of Patch's primary coverage should check out our June 12 Primary Guide.
Need to double-check your polling place? Click here.
Meantime, check back with Patch throughout the day and night as we add photos, updates, breaking news and, of course, the winners.