Ballot surprises can be skipped

By Brandon Herring - bio | email

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - When voters head to the polls Tuesday they will certainly recognize candidates in the races that involved a lot of campaigning. In South Carolina, the races for Governor and Lt. Governor have gotten a lot of attention along with other state races.

There are also races such as Secretary of State and Comptroller General that could surprise voters when they go to the polls. In North Carolina many races for court positions may come as a surprise. There are also smaller local races like county council, city council, and board of education that some voters may not be expecting.

Horry County's Director of Voter Registration and Elections Sandy Martin said voters can only ask poll workers about the voting process. If they get to the voting booth and find a race about which they are unsure they cannot get answers.

"[Poll workers] can't answer any direct questions about candidates or issues," explained Martin. "If voters ask do they have to vote on every race or every candidate, they can answers like that, or if they need some help, but they can't answer anything directly about a candidate or an issue."

People voting absentee Monday said they thought they were prepared to vote. However, they did find some surprises.

"I'd already looked and my mother had already looked, but I was surprised by some of the amendments," admitted Russell Holliday of Galivants Ferry, who helped her mother vote Monday. "I did not know about some of the amendments."

Holliday was not the only one caught off-guard by four state constitutional amendments on the ballot. Several other absentee voters said they did not expect them. Nonetheless, voters can read the amendments completely while in the voting booth.

"They were easy to understand once you read them," commented Ozzie Beauchamp of Conway.

The amendments were not the only surprises on the ballots for some voters. Some of the races and candidates had also gone unnoticed.

"A few of the officials that were being elected to minor offices were a little bit of a surprise," said Robert Mabe of Conway.

Many absentee voters said if they are unsure about a race they usually vote based on the political party.

However, voting by party is not always an option though. Amendments have no party affiliation, and some of the races in both states are non-partisan.

Martin said voters can leave items blank on their ballots. If something is skipped voting machines will warn voters that they have not made a selection. That may create some pressure to go back and make a choice, but Martin said voters do not have to.

"You have to review your ballot," Martin said. "When you review it it will tell you you have not selected all the candidates. It'll alert you that you missed that race just in case you missed it by accident, but you still don't have to vote on it. You can still skip it."

South Carolina voters can find a complete list of candidates by county here at

North Carolina voters can find sample ballots for a specific precinct here at Select "Show me my Voter Information." Enter your name and county. Click "Submit"

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