SC Politics

What If You Held An Election And No One Showed Up?

We’re trending in that direction in South Carolina …

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In a representative democracy, decisions are made by those who show up … although the motivation to vote continues evaporating each year as faith in public institutions (and the special interest puppets who fill them) continues to crater.

The troubling flip side of this coin? The consequences of not showing up have never been costlier … in dollars or in outcomes.

Paradoxical, right?

Anyway, in South Carolina, the state’s backward, corrupt, results-challenged uniparty rulers suffered a rare defeat on Tuesday evening. It wasn’t necessarily a “seismic” defeat – or a defeat which will immediately change the trajectory of bad governance in the state – but it was a defeat nonetheless. Which is good.

South Carolina’s uniparty leaders are absolutely terrible … and their habitual failure to produce positive results with the ever-elevating stacks of taxpayer cash they siphon from us working folks is totally unacceptable. So watching several of these hacks go down in defeat – and seeing several more of them on the ropes – is refreshing.

What’s not refreshing about the recent elections? The fact no one voted.

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Obviously when I say “no one” I don’t mean that literally. A total of 438,711 South Carolinians – or 13.55 percent of the state’s 3.24 million registered voters – cast ballots on Tuesday (or during the early voting period from May 28 through June 7, 2024).

How does that stack up historically for a partisan primary race? Not well at all.

You can see the official numbers for yourself at the conclusion of this column, but turnout in this year’s partisan primaries – which is where the overwhelming majority of the state’s competitive elections gets decided – was atrocious. Turnout was literally half of what it was in 1998 (26.7 percent) and 2010 (26.5 percent) – which are the recent high water marks for partisan primary voter engagement.

The only modern primary to feature lower voter participation? Well, technically there isn’t one … although 2012’s 13.6 percent turnout is comparable.

Why are people staying home? I have a theory …

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Yeah for those of you not on X … that read as follows: “Non-competitive districts. Special interest puppeteering. Crap candidates. Lowest common denominator campaigning.” Add it all up and what do you get? The same fake debates year after year, with people totally turning them off … and tuning them out.

And who can blame them? Prices are so jacked right now they’re just trying to make ends meet … who has time to wade through a bunch of copy-and-paste politi-spam?

How can we as a society turn this anemic participation around? Well … we need to start at the source, which means refraining from drawing any more non-competitive districts.

“Republicans and Democrats in South Carolina continue to draw legislative districts that insulate incumbents – denying voters real choices at the ballot box,” I wrote in a 2018 column. “Not surprisingly, this lack of choice leads to a lack of accountability – which leads to a lack of progress on a host of fronts.”

Fail … rinse, repeat.

Is the electoral pressure currently being applied to the ruling uniparty the beginning of a populist groundswell in the Palmetto State? And will such a groundswell finally result in long-overdue changes reorienting the failed political and ideological trajectory of the state?

Dum spiro spero, y’all.

But here’s the thing: A populist groundswell is eventually gonna require … people. And for better or worse (a little better yesterday, I believe), the trend lines on that front are moving in the wrong direction.

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THE DATA …

(SCVotes.gov)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

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 and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and eight children.

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6 comments

Faith Getting Restored June 12, 2024 at 6:34 pm

While I still believe Presidential elections are and have been decided by someone other than the voters, at least since 1964, and that Congressional/Senate elections may likewise be rigged in many cases, yesterday has restored a bit of my faith in state and local elections.
Voters tired of the “good-ol’-gal system handed Penry Gustafson her a–. Sandy Senn is gone. Katrina Shealy and her constant bleating for more and more government involvement in our lives will be a thing of the past too, if the 60% of voters who voted against her just go vote in the runoff. This has the potential to improve the quality of state government in South Carolina, noticeably.

Please voters, keep it up!

Reply
River Top fan June 12, 2024 at 9:42 pm

Finish Shealy off. Bye Senn.

Reply
Peter Minton Top fan June 13, 2024 at 7:12 am

We are representativeRepublic, not a representativedemocracy!

It is very obvious the government education system is working!

When & why did they stop teaching civics? I suppose it was when they stopped teaching!

Why is the government afraid of school choice?

Parents need to wake up!

Reply
Peter Minton Top fan June 13, 2024 at 7:12 am

We are representativeRepublic, not a representativedemocracy!

It is very obvious the government education system is working!

When & why did they stop teaching civics? I suppose it was when they stopped teaching!

Why is the government afraid of school choice?

Reply
Jan June 13, 2024 at 1:06 pm

We are a Democratic Republic and a Representative Democracy. You people are so stupid. You would flunk third-grade civics.

Reply
jfh3rd Top fan June 13, 2024 at 3:12 pm

An important thought wasn’t mentioned in that (great) article. SC is so top-heavy with transplanted, and especially recently transplanted people, who think we are the greatest state ever, and aren’t in tune with our states politics – they feel no reason to participate in state, local, but especially local primary elections. Transplanted seniors participate some, but transplanted young’uns, not at all…

Reply

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