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The hottest item on this year’s general election ballot for Lancaster County voters wasn’t a political race at all but one of two ballot measures that despite the legalese boiled down to one simple question – should local restaurants be allowed to sell alcohol on Sunday?
By press time Tuesday night, with ballots from all of Lancaster County’s 29 precincts and almost 6,000 electronic absentee ballots tallied, it appeared as if supporters of the measure were heading for a victory by a margin of 4,345 votes – 17,116 for the measure, 12,771 against.
Even with approximately 3,400 paper absentee ballots still uncounted, the margin was impossible for opponents to overcome.
“It’s a great day for Lancaster County,” initiative organizer Elissa Boyet of Indian Land said. “It’s been two and a half years of hard work that’s finally paid off.”
Tuesday’s alcohol ballot measure represented what boiled down for many in Lancaster County as a moral issue.
While organizers of the 5:18 Movement opposing the issue could not be reached for comment, their point of view was well represented in the Bible verse their name represented: Ephesians 5:18, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the Spirit.”
Should the measure’s victory be certified along with the county’s ballots Friday, restaurant owners who already have permits to sell alcohol Monday through Friday will immediately be able to request Sunday alcohol sales permits.
Boyet said the measure could not have been successful without the help of many people, including those who got out and voted.
“Existing restaurants will be able to open their doors on Sunday and the opportunity for others to come will be there,” Boyet said. “It’s all about choice for residents and jobs.
“And for those who opposed the measure, I still hope you will still go out and enjoy lunch or dinner on Sunday, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying that for a family day,” she said.
Accompanying the Sunday alcohol sales question was a state referendum, Amendment 1.
It proposed two major changes to the state Constitution: That starting in 2018, a candidate for governor will choose a lieutenant governor as a running mate on a joint ticket; and removes the lieutenant governor as the presiding officer of the Senate, leaving the Senate to elect its own presiding officer from within the Senate body.
Lancaster voters approved the referendum 15,943 for to 13,051 against.
Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151