It’s still im­por­tant to vote, even though bal­lot has few lo­cal con­tests

The Sun News (Sunday) - - Opinion - By The Myr­tle Beach Sun News Ed­i­to­rial Board

Ab­sen­tee vot­ing in Horry County and across South Carolina sug­gests that a lack of lo­cal elec­tive con­tests on Tues­day has not kept regis­tered vot­ers from us­ing their voices and vot­ing.

Re­gard­less of a per­son’s po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion, or feel­ings about Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, vot­ing is one way of tak­ing part in gov­ern­ment at the lo­cal, state and na­tional lev­els. In some ways, Tues­day’s off-year elec­tions across the na­tion are ref­er­en­dums on the Trump pres­i­dency and the Repub­li­can Con­gress.

In South Carolina, the gu­ber­na­to­rial elec­tion has added sig­nif­i­cance be­cause the Repub­li­can in­cum­bent, Henry McMaster, was an early and ar­dent sup­porter of Trump when other state Repub­li­can of­fice hold­ers — Gov. Nikki Ha­ley, U.S. Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott — ac­tively op­posed Trump’s nom­i­na­tion. McMaster be­came gov­er­nor when Ha­ley was named am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions. Demo­crat James Smith op­poses McMaster for gov­er­nor.

In many places around Horry County, vot­ers won’t see any con­tested lo­cal races, only a non-bind­ing ref­er­en­dum ques­tion on im­pact fees. U.S. Rep. Tom Rice, R-Myr­tle Beach, is op­posed by Robert Wil­liams, D-Dar­ling­ton, in the 7th Con­gres­sional Dis­trict which in­cludes Horry County.

Only one Horry County Coun­cil seat has op­po­si­tion; Dis­trict 7 (south­ern Con­way area) rep­re­sen­ta­tive Demo­crat Harold Leon Phillips, is chal­lenged by Repub­li­can Or­ton Bel­lamy. Two in­cum­bent Board of Ed­u­ca­tion mem­bers, Holly Heni­ford, RDistrict 1 (Lit­tle River, North Myr­tle Beach), and Neal James, R-Dis­trict 10 (N.C. state line to near Con­way), have bal­lot oppo- sition from Micah Paul Gore, D-Dis­trict 1, and Shake­dra Jenerette, D-Dis­trict 10.

The im­pact fee ad­vi­sory ques­tion asks if vot­ers “… fa­vor the im­po­si­tion of de­vel­op­ment im­pact fees on new res­i­den­tial and non-res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment in the County, af­ter the re­quired study is con­ducted pur­suant to State Statute, in or­der to off­set the cost the im­pact such new de­vel­op­ment has on pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture and fa­cil­i­ties, and shift­ing some of the bur­den of fund­ing nec­es­sary im­prove­ments from ex­ist­ing tax­pay­ers to the new de­vel­op­ment cre­at­ing the de­mand?”

In Au­gust, when Horry County Coun­cil dis­cussed the ref­er­en­dum, im­pos­ing im­pact fees was de­scribed as the al­ter­na­tive to in­creas­ing prop­erty taxes. Im­pact fee rev­enue may help pay for in­fra­struc­ture.

Statewide, vot­ers have a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment on chang­ing the now elec­tive of­fice of Su­per­in­ten­dent of Ed­u­ca­tion to one ap­pointed by the gov­er­nor with the con­sent of the Sen­ate. A “Yes” vote is for fur­ther stream­lin­ing state gov­ern­ment and mak­ing the ex­ec­u­tive branch more ac­count­able and re­spon­si­ble. South Carolina is one of only a hand­ful of states that con­tinue to elect their chief ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cer.

Ab­sen­tee vot­ing is an in­di­ca­tor of to­tal turnout. The Horry County Board of Elec­tions has had about 5,000 in-per­son bal­lots since ab­sen­tee vot­ing started in Oc­to­ber. “We’ve also mailed over 5,000 bal­lots,” said Sandy Martin, and al­most 3,000 had been re­turned by Nov. 1. Ab­sen­tee vot­ing may done in per­son (1515 Fourth Ave., Con­way) Mon­day by those who can’t leave their work or will be out of town Tues­day.

Vot­ing is a fun­da­men­tal civic duty, even if it’s not manda­tory. Vote Tues­day if you haven’t done so by ab­sen­tee bal­lot.

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