SC

SC Runoffs: Nobody Voted

WEAK TURNOUT IN PALMETTO STATE ELECTIONS We wrote last month about abysmal voter turnout in South Carolina’s June 14 partisan primary elections for state and local offices.  According to the S.C. Election Commission (SCEC), fewer that 420,000 of the Palmetto State’s three million registered voters cast ballots in this year’s…

WEAK TURNOUT IN PALMETTO STATE ELECTIONS

We wrote last month about abysmal voter turnout in South Carolina’s June 14 partisan primary elections for state and local offices.  According to the S.C. Election Commission (SCEC), fewer that 420,000 of the Palmetto State’s three million registered voters cast ballots in this year’s primary races.

That’s an embarrassingly-low 13.82 percent turnout rate – down from a similarly abysmal 15.97 percent in 2014.

In 2010, partisan primary turnout was 24.1 percent.  In 2008 it was 20.3 percent.  In three out of four cycles before that (2004, 2002 and 1998) it was over 25 percent each time.

Things only got worse during the runoff elections held on June 28.  According to SCEC data, of the 1.6 million South Carolinians registered to vote in areas where runoff races were being held – only 141,247 cast ballots.

That’s a turnout rate of just 9.01 percent.

Unprecedented?  Actually, no – it’s been worse.

In 2014, only 6.32 percent of eligible registered voters (179,218 out of 2.8 million) participated in partisan runoff elections – while in 2008 a measly 4.4 percent (102,951 out of 2.2 million) cast ballots.

Stronger turnout was seen in the 2010 runoff when 15.27 percent of registered voters (394,747 out of 2.5 million) cast ballots.

In South Carolina, many partisan primary races feature three or more candidates vying for the same seat.  If no candidate receives a majority of ballots during the first round of voting, the top two finishers square off two weeks later in a “runoff” election.

Obviously participation in partisan primary and runoff elections is conditioned on any number of factors.  For example: Which offices are on the ballot?  How high-profile are those races?  How many candidates filed for office?  And how many of the contested races required a second round of voting to determine the winner?

All of these factors impact how many people show up at the polls.

Any way you slice it, though, there is a clear downward trend in primary turnout in the Palmetto State over the last decade – unless of course we’re talking presidential politics.  Back in February over a million South Carolinians (37.7 percent of all registered voters) cast ballots in the state’s “First in the South” presidential primary elections.  This record-breaking total is attributable to a surge in first-time “Republican” primary voters – which of course was due to the populist insurgency of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.

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