We know voters are heading to the polls across South Carolina today to participate in the 2022 partisan primary elections … we just don’t know how many.
At least not yet …
What we do know is that the Palmetto State could be headed toward a historically low percentage of registered voters participating in this primary … which lacks any high-profile statewide “Republican” races and has seen what amounts to a voter suppression effort on the Democratic side.
Voter turnout is always lower in midterm elections than it is during a presidential election year – and turnout in partisan primary elections is always lower than it is during the general election in November.
But we could see record low voter participation in this cycle …
The only thing that could prevent that? Two competitive GOP primary races for the U.S. Congress are taking place along South Carolina’s picturesque 187-mile coastline. These races are driving voter engagement – and have national implications.
Beyond that, though … very little is lighting a fire under people this year.
Anyway, two years ago a total of 767,187 voters cast ballots in the primary election – or 23.04 percent of the state’s 3.33 million registered voters at the time, according to the S.C. Election Commission (SCVotes.gov).
Believe it or not, that was a strong showing …
PARTISAN PRIMARY TURNOUT IN SOUTH CAROLINA
2020 – 767,187 ballots cast – 23.04 percent turnout
2018 – 621,841 ballots cast – 20.43 percent turnout
2016 – 417,935 ballots cast – 13.82 percent turnout
2014 – 452,990 ballots cast – 15.97 percent turnout
2012 – 282,035 ballots cast – 11.52 percent turnout
2010 – 623,418 ballots cast – 24.11 percent turnout
2008 – 475,929 ballots cast – 20.33 percent turnout
I predict 2022 will go like 2012 … but you never know.
This year is unlike previous years, too, in that for the first time ever early voting was permitted in the Palmetto State. According to SCVotes.gov, a total of 100,450 people took advantage of early voting – along with 14,902 who submitted absentee ballots by mail.
Not surprisingly, early voting was most prevalent in counties along the coast where former U.S. president Donald Trump is hoping to take out a pair of GOP incumbents – first district congresswoman Nancy Mace and seventh district congressman Tom Rice.
Horry County – the epicenter of the seventh district – saw 11,618 voters cast early ballots (more than one in ten early votes cast statewide). Florence and Georgetown counties registered 4,418 and 2,943 early votes, respectively.
Meanwhile Beaufort County – an emerging force in the first district – saw 7,858 voters cast early ballots. That total actually bested Charleston County, which saw 6,464 early votes. Berkeley and Dorchester Counties – both of which include broad swaths of the first district – saw 5,323 and 4,195 early votes, respectively.
Clearly, the coast is where the action is this primary …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that Buffalo Bisons’ lid pictured above).
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