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