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County voters will help shape the November general election ballot Tuesday, June 10, during the South Carolina 2014 primary election.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. election day as voters consider candidates in one local partisan primary and several state primaries.
Voters will also have the opportunity to express their opinions on several controversial advisory questions, depending on which party primary ballot they choose, ranging from a ban on abortions to medical marijuana.
Read on for the information you’ll need to know to cast your vote.
This year’s primary elections include only one local county race – the Republican primary between candidates Tom Holland and Randy Newman Jr. for the 6th Circuit seat of Solicitor Doug Barfield, who is not running for re-election. The 6th Judicial Circuit includes Lancaster, Chester and Fairfield counties.
Holland, a Lancaster attorney, has served as an assistant solicitor in both the 6th and 16th judicial circuits and as a former 6th circuit special assistant to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He also served as city of Lancaster solicitor (2005-06 and 2011-12) and as general counsel for the Lancaster County Sheriff Office (2006-11).
Newman is a Lancaster native who first served with the 6th Judicial Circuit as an intern in 2009 and as a law clerk in 2010 for former 6th circuit judge Brooks Goldsmith.
He’s been an assistant solicitor since 2011, and now handles felony cases for the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office, Lancaster Police Department, S.C. Highway Patrol and the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice.
During a recent Lancaster County Republican Club forum, both men said they’d work to reduce the circuit’s case backlog and focus on repeat offenders.
Holland called on his 20 years of experience as a law enforcement and private practice attorney as the reasons he’d make the better solicitor. He is running on a platform of “fixing the system” and said he believes the key is to pursue harsher penalties on drug charges by taking advantage of the state’s three-strikes laws and others.
Newman touted his deep roots and connections in Lancaster and the county and his “vested interest” in keeping it safe as the reason he’d make a better solicitor. He is running on a four-part platform to improve efficiency in the solicitor’s office, strengthen its relationship with law enforcement, focus on repeat offenders and violent criminals and advocate for alternative courts for non-violent crimes.
The 6th Judicial Circuit includes Lancaster, Chester and Fairfield counties. The winner of the GOP primary will take on 6th Circuit Deputy Public Defender William Frick of Winnsboro in the Nov. 4 general election.
County voters will also have an opportunity to choose candidates in seven state-level Republican primary races, three of which also include Democratic primary candidates.
The S.C. superintendent of education primary to fill retiring Superintendent Dr. Mick Zais’ seat is by far the most hotly contested race this primary season, with eight Republican candidates and four Democratic candidates.
• S.C. superintendent of education Republican primary candidates are Sally Atwater, Gary Burgess, Meka Childs, Amy Cofield, Sheri Few, Don Jordan, Elizabeth Moffly and Molly Spearman.
• S.C. superintendent of education Democratic primary candidates are Montrio Belton, Sheila Gallagher, Jerry Govan and Tom Thompson.
• Democratic voters in one county precinct will choose their nominee for the S.C. House of Representatives District 53 seat. District 53 includes the Spring Hill precinct in eastern Lancaster County and democratic voters there will choose between candidates Amy Brown and Anthony Waymers to represent their party in the November general election.
Other dual primaries include Republican and Democratic challengers to incumbent S.C. Sen. Lindsey Graham and a special election for the remaining two years of former S.C. Sen. Jim DeMint’s term. U.S. Sen. Tim Scott now occupies that Senate seat.
• U.S. Senate Republican primary candidates are Graham, Det Bowers, Lee Bright, Richard Cash, Bill Connor, Benjamin Dunn and Nancy Mace.
• U.S. Senate Democratic primary candidates are Brad Hutto and Jay Stamper.
• U.S. Senate special election Republican primary candidates are Scott and Randall Young.
• U.S. Senate special election Democrat primary candidates are Joyce Dickerson, Sidney Moore and Harold Pavilack.
Republicans have four other primary races. The candidates in each of these races are:
• Lieutenant governor: Mike Campbell, Pat McKinney, Henry McMaster and Ray Moore. Incumbent Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell is not running for re-election.
• State treasurer: Curtis Loftis (incumbent) and Brian Adams.
• Adjutant general: S.C. National Guard Maj. Gen. Bob Livingston (incumbent) and U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. James Breazeale
• State Agriculture Commissioner: Hugh Weathers (incumbent) and Joe Farmer
Advisory questions are non-binding state party referendums to gauge constituents’ thoughts on a range of issues. This year’s Republican and Democratic primary ballots include five.
The Republican ballot includes an advisory question on whether or not the state should amend Article 1, Section 3, of the S.C. Constitution to ban abortions.
The question reads:
“The privileges and immunities of citizens of South Carolina and the United States shall not be abridged, so that no person shall be deprived of life without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws. These rights shall extend to both born and pre-born persons beginning at conception.”
The second Republican advisory question asks whether or not South Carolina should gradually do away with its state income tax by reducing it 1.4 percent each year until it is gone.
The Democratic ballot includes the question, “Should medical marijuana be legalized for use in cases of severe, chronic illnesses when documented by a physician?”
The other two Democratic questions regard gaming laws in the state. The first asks voters if they believe each state – and not Congress – should decide whether or not to allow online gaming and its regulation. A related question asks if gaming laws should be modernized to fund repairs to state roads and bridges instead of a tax increase.
This will be the first state primary season in which South Carolina voters are required by law to show a photo ID at the polls.
Acceptable forms of identification include a S.C. driver’s license, a S.C. DMV ID card, a federal military ID, valid U.S. passport or a S.C. voter registration card with a photo.
Lancaster County Voter Registration Director Mary Ann Hudson said she wanted to let voters know voter registration cards with a photo ID are available for free at the county voter registration office, but they are not a requirement to vote and largely unnecessary for registered voters who have other proper identification.
For those who qualify, absentee voting is now open for the primary elections. Qualified voters may vote absentee in person at the Lancaster County Voter Registration Office at 101 N. Main St., complete an application and cast their ballot. In-person absentee voting closes at 5 p.m. Monday, June 9.
Those wishing to vote by mail better get busy since they’ll have to contact the county voter registration office to request a ballot application by phone, mail, email or fax, after which an application will be mailed to them. Mailed applications must be filled out and returned by the Friday before election day, which is this Friday, June 6, after which a ballot will be mailed to you. Completed ballots must be returned by mail or in person by 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 10.
For details, contact the Lancaster County Voter Registration Office at (803) 285-2969 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151