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Don't get caught up in rumors; get the facts

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By The Staff

No doubt about it, this is going to be a historic election year. Nationally, we are going to have the first black president or the first female vice president.

Locally, we’re going to have either the first female representative from Lancaster County in the S.C. Legislature, or the first black representative since the Reconstruction Era.

We could also have the first female state senator from Lancaster.

We also have the opportunity to say how we are going to the pay for the new courthouse – either approve the one cent sales tax or take a hit in our property taxes.

Of course, there are other races on the ballots.

The Republican and Democratic conventions spurred many people to register to vote, especially among the younger generation, said Lancaster County election official Cassie Stump.

That’s not all the election fervor has spurred. The rumors are rampant. We’ve heard everything – from people registering illegally and folks carrying arm loads of absentee ballots from the voter registration office to candidates offering beer or canned hams in exchange for votes.

While we can’t confirm the latter, we’ll try to dispel the former.

There have been several voter registration drives throughout the county. Those spearheading the drives pick up the registration forms at the voter registration office. The forms ask for basic information – name, address, birth date and Social Security number.

The registrant is also asked to swear an oath to his or her citizenship, age, South Carolina residency, mental competency and any criminal convictions.

And new registrants must have a valid identification or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, pay stub or other government document that shows name and address.

The registration forms are turned into the voter registration office where they are verified. If the address is not valid no voter registration card is issued.

Absentee voting is another option for registered voters. Once again there are guidelines. Only registered voters can vote an absentee ballot and they must meet criteria for absentee voting. There are even guidelines for those picking up ballots for other voters.

These stopgaps are in place to prevent any incidents like those circulating through rumors.

Now, does that mean there won’t be problems or mistakes? Of course not. We realize that.

But we can clear up some of the rumors by getting the facts. Stump and the voter registration office staff will answer any questions you have. The voter registration office phone number is 285-2969. You can also visit the official Web site, SCVotes.org, and get more information about voting in South Carolina.

Voters have an important task – to choose the best person to represent them in national and local offices. And their focus needs to be on educating themselves about issues and the candidates – not gossip.

Don’t get caught up in rumors. Get the facts. For information about the voting process, call Stump.

As for the beer-and-canned-hams vote exchange, that is another fact-and-find mission. However, if you can confirm that rumor give me a call (283-1159.) We would love to report on those incidents, too.