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Key races on the ballot in SC’s Tuesday primaries

Updated: Jun. 12, 2022 at 10:00 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - Contests for governor and the U.S. Congress are the marquee races in South Carolina’s primaries this week, but candidates are also competing for numerous other statewide seats.

Incumbent Gov. Henry McMaster is seeking his second full term as governor. He is being challenged in the Republican primary by Harrison Musselwhite. Five candidates, meanwhile, appear on the Democratic primary ballot in the governor’s race. Former First District Congressman Joe Cunningham, State Sen. Mia McLeod, health care advocate Carlton Boyd, Calvin McMillan and William H. Williams are hoping to take on the Republican winner.

No Democrat has captured South Carolina’s top office in 20 years.

In the Lowcountry, voters in the First Congressional District will select between incumbent Rep. Nancy Mace and former State Rep. Katie Arrington on the Republican side. The winner of that race will face Democrat Dr. Annie Andrews in November.

In the Sixth Congressional District, incumbent Jim Clyburn faces challenges from fellow Democrats Michael Addison and Gregg Marcel Dixon, while on the Republican side, candidates Duke Buckner and Sonia Morris hope to win the primary and take on the Democratic challenger.

Garnering the most attention in Tuesday’s election is the race for state school superintendent in which nine people are hoping to replace current Supt. Molly Spearman, who announced she would not run for re-election.

Six Republican candidates appear on the ballot: Travis Bedson, Bryan Chapman, Kizzi Gibson, Lynda Leventis-Wells, Kathy Maness and Ellen Weaver. The winner of the Republican primary will face the winner of the Democratic primary, in which Gary Burgess, Lisa Ellis and Jerry Govan appear on that ballot.

Attorney General Alan Wilson, Secretary of State Mark Hammond and Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers also have challengers in the Republican primary.

Republican voters will likely face three “advisory questions” on their ballots as well.

The first asks if voters if people registering to vote in the state should have the right to register with the political party of their choice at that time.

The second question concerns school board elections. The question asks whether school board candidates should be able to run as a candidate of their political party as candidates for other elected offices are allowed to run.

The final question involves criminal damages in liability lawsuits.

“In a situation where there is more than one person responsible for damages in a lawsuit, do you support changing South Carolina law so that each person should pay damages based on that person’s actual share of fault?” the ballot asks.

The State Election Commission says primary advisory questions are developed and certified to be placed on ballots by the political parties and have no binding effect.

Nearly 80,000 cast ballots in SC’s first early-voting period

The June primaries marked the first time the state’s new early voting period was an option for voters.

Gov. Henry McMaster signed into law in May an election reform bill that replaced the former in-person absentee voting option with a two-week early voting option.

The South Carolina State Election Commission listed a total of 79,147 early votes cast statewide as of Friday afternoon. That total includes votes received through Thursday.

A final tally that includes those who voted Friday is not expected until Monday, but Deputy Executive Director Chris Whitmire said that based on the trend in numbers day by day in the early voting period, they estimate a total of 95,000 will have voted early.

Comparing this year’s primary’s early voting totals through Thursday against 2018′s midterm primaries, however, shows an increase of almost 38% in votes this year.

Polls open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday

Primary day voters can go to their local polling place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. Those who are in line by 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote, Whitmire said.

Voters can check their sample ballot and find their polling place at SCVotes.gov before leaving to vote.

Voters must bring a photo ID to cast a ballot.

Those who have an absentee ballot must return it to the county voter registration office no later than 7 p.m. Tuesday for it to count, Whitmire said. The voter’s oath must be signed and the return envelope witnessed before returning the ballot. The witness must provide an address.

“Instead of mailing your ballot, consider personally delivering your ballot to ensure it arrives on time,” Whitmire said.

Voters can have an authorized returnee return their ballot for them, but must complete an authorized returnee form. A photo ID is required when returning the absentee ballot in person.

Copyright 2022 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.