Turnout was so low (11.85%), not even I voted

I’m embarrassed to admit that, because I don’t think it’s happened since the first time I was eligible to vote in 1972. But I was not in town Tuesday, and when I tried to determine last week what I would be missing so that I could vote absentee, I was frustrated.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t miss anything, beyond the opportunity to register a symbolic  protest vote against Joe Wilson. I guess I could have voted for my neighbor Bill Banning for county treasurer. But you know, I haven’t the slightest idea whether he or incumbent Jim Eckstrom (who won easily) would have been better in the post. Which is the main reason why the position should not be elective.

Oh, as for my bid to find out what I was missing — I went to the project Vote Smart site to check and see what would be on the ballot in my precinct, and ran into two problems: There were no county races listed, and I think the state House district was wrong. At least, Kenny Bingham recently told me that I  had been drawn into his district, and Vote Smart still had me in Rick Quinn’s. So I don’t know. In any case, neither had serious opposition that I heard about.

Add to that the mess with all the challengers thrown off the ballot, and I was pretty sure (and still am) that I was missing no significant opportunities.

Still, I feel bad about it. And I’m not consoled by knowing that almost no one else voted (turnout was a record-low 11.85 percent of eligible citizens). I’ve never considered myself to be in the same category as voting slackers. I suppose next I’m going to take up watching reality TV 10 hours a day.

Anyway, a few brief observations about what did happen:

  • After all the coverage she got, Kara Gormley Meador’s bid to become a newsmaker came to nothing. The few voters who showed agreed with The State and stuck with Ronnie Cromer.
  • Aside from that, there are indications that if all those people hadn’t been thrown off the ballot, some of them would have won. As The State noted, “Just nine senators and 14 House members faced primary challengers – including the four House members vying for two seats – in a year when all 170 legislative seats are up for election.” But of those 23 with opposition, six lost. That indicates the mood was right for some change.
  • All those Democratic bigwigs who endorsed Preston Brittain were utterly ignored by the almost solidly black Democratic primary electorate of the new 7th congressional district. To put it in brutally frank terms, Andre Bauer or whoever wins the runoff is probably going to be happy to run against a candidate named Tinubu who was distinguished in the primary as being the one endorsed by the AFL-CIO. But what there still is of the Democratic “establishment” in SC may be pinning its hopes on a challenge to the result. Oddly, they’re not saying Brittain had the votes; they’re saying that if Vick’s votes had been counted, he’d be in a runoff (remember Vick, who self-destructed?). So. Stay tuned.
  • One good bit of news: Gwen Kennedy will not be on Richland County Council any more.

Y’all have any other thoughts to share? Let’s have ’em.

32 thoughts on “Turnout was so low (11.85%), not even I voted

  1. Silence

    Good news about Torrey Rush beating Gwen Kennedy for sure. He’s a stand-up fellow and very committed to public service. I’ve worked with him quite a bit over the last several years and I know he will do a great job.

  2. bud

    I can’t think of a really persuasive reason to vote in the general election come November. None of the SC races will be contested. As for POTUS, SC won’t matter. We really do need to get rid of the electoral college. That is THE single biggest flaw in the Constitution.

  3. JoanneH

    Went to vote and had no offices to vote for, not even school board.

    Thanks for that website. I’ll check it next time.

  4. bud

    Aside from the utter irrelevancy of voting I’m not even sure Obama is that great of a prize. He continues to cowtow to the corporate elites and big bankers. He caves every time he’s given the opportunity when dealing with the crazed Republicans. Add the death list and continued occupation of Afghanistan and you may as well have George W. Bush. Come to think of it that is just crazy talk. But seriously from a liberal perspective there really isn’t anywhere to turn.

  5. Karen McLeod

    Brad, I missed, too. I checked the paper, and both democratic and republican sites, and I couldn’t find anyone who was running in my area. I may have missed someone.

  6. tired old man

    An interesting aside to Torrey Rush. He is the husband of WIS’ Judy Gadsen, which means that the old six o’clock newsroom batted 50-50 yesterday, with Kara Gormley’s bid shattered by Senator Cromer.

    Another aside: Mike Rose of Dorchester and David Thomas exit the Senate stage right.

    Last, the bride and I pondered our two small choices of voting against Joe Wilson in the GOP primary or going with the Democrat ballot and choosing the sacrificial lamb to go against John Courson this fall.

    We knew nothing about Joe Wilson’s opponent, other than we wanted to vote for Joe Wilson’s opponent and thus against all the shallowness Joe Wilson personifies.

    Then we shuttered at the possibility that Joe Wilson’s opponent was (another) Tea Party nut job, and that Joe would be encouraged to be even more stupid if his far-right opponent scored well against him.

    Finally, we realized that Joe will disappoint regardless, so we both voted against him and for his opponent (whoever he was or for whatever he stood for). This decision is anathema to my personal history, but the times are what they are — and even old editorial writers who relentlessly encourage voter turnout finally get the blues, huh, Brad?

    The saddest observation is left for last: No Democrat is challenging Joe Wilson. OK, it is time to go the third party route because the apparatus of both political parties is of a dinosaur mentality.

    Best to all, and all the best from the Tired Old Man.

  7. kc

    I am disgusted by Harpootlian. I cannot believe he is trying to gin up a runoff between Tinubu and Brittain, whose main accomplishment to date appears to having chosen a well-connected and wealthy father. Nothing against young Brittain, but he doesn’t have any substance and he got whupped fair and square by Tinubu.

    Why was Vick’s name even on the ballot? In case of something like this?

  8. kc

    The saddest observation is left for last: No Democrat is challenging Joe Wilson.

    Why would anyone bother? The blowhard party leader is busy trying to undermine a Democratic candidate who actually WON her primary.

  9. Juan Caruso

    My extended family and I have vited in every election since I was honorably discharged or they have been eligible.

    Beforehand we gather facts, discuss issues and then vote what is best for dozens of us.

    Everyone for whom we voted won.

    Those who could but did not vote have no ‘splaining to do. Likewise, they have little right to complain later.

  10. `Kathryn Braun

    @bud — the reason to vote, even if you are unlikely to vote for the winner, is that there is a huge difference between a state that votes 90/10 Republican, and one that votes 55/45 Republican. POTUS did very well in ’08. Sheheen did very well in ’08. These kinds of results will keep quality candidates running as Dems.

  11. Susanincola

    @tired old man — I went through the same process (and ended up in the same place) as you did with Joe Wilson.
    The only other race in my district was Kirkman Finlay vs Jim Corbett. Kirkman was standing right outside the door of my polling place greeting everyone as they went in, which I thought was not allowed, so I was a little surprised.
    There were very few people there.

  12. Susanincola

    Question: when they calculate the percentage, do the include the eligible voters in all those precincts where there were no actual choices on the ballot? That right there might skew the numbers pretty heavily this time I think.

  13. Doug Ross


    Candidates can stand outside polling places. I did (along with others) when I ran for school board in 2002. It was surprising how many people came up to me afterward and said they voted for me just because I was standing there. Had I had several clones, I may have pulled off a victory since I only spent $500 on signs (one of the primary factors in down ballot races).

  14. Andrew

    I live in the Senate district that Mike Fair represents. I’m not that crazy about Fair, but his opponent (he had two, but one got knocked off the ballot), is the editor of the Southern Partisan.

    Sorry, I’m just don’t want a lost causer as my state Senator.

  15. Susanincola


    Maybe that’s why I voted for Kirkman?! And it seemed to work for him, too, since he won.

  16. bud

    kc, I’m actually conflicted about the Tinabu/Brittain race. If people went to the poll and voted for a particular candidate their intent should not be questioned. Maybe they wanted a runoff for some reason. Maybe they wanted to send a message that someone they consider a “good” candidate was railroaded off the ballot. It just seem presumptuous to assume they didn’t know there preferred candadate had just dropped out.

    On the other hand, it is MOST likely these voters were just making a compulsive, uninformed vote and perhaps they SHOULD be held in contempt. This is one of those gray area situations where I’m truly conflicted.

  17. Mark Stewart

    Darn, I missed voting for County Coroner.

    What I don’t get is why should I? An elected Coroner? Really?

  18. Ralph Hightower

    Joe Wilson could get more stupid than he already is?

    That’s a surpise to me. I thought he already reached the pinnacle on the stupidity scale.

  19. Tavis Micklash

    “Candidates can stand outside polling places. I did (along with others) when I ran for school board in 2002. It was surprising how many people came up to me afterward and said they voted for me just because I was standing there. Had I had several clones, I may have pulled off a victory since I only spent $500 on signs (one of the primary factors in down ballot races).”

    Just about everyone has poll greeters as well. They recruit them on their websites and mailers

    @kathryn, KC and TiredOldMan
    Im looking forward to voting against Courson in Nov. TO be honest it could be a Penguin with a vote for Ike button on.

    Im just upset I wont get a chance to vote against Joe Wilson.

    At this point im a fan of throwing just about any status quo guy out the door.

  20. Dave C

    My wife and I both voted here in the Oconee County hinterlands. The entire Republican primary was scrapped here…so we got to choose between two Democratic candidates for Congress…though neither one has much chance of winning the general election. *sigh*

  21. `Kathryn Braun

    @Tavis–Why the hate for Courson? He seems decent enough, especially for a Republican in this state.

  22. Tavis Micklash

    “@Tavis–Why the hate for Courson? He seems decent enough, especially for a Republican in this state.”


    To be honest I’m not a big fan of anyone in the Senate. Kind of just think its time for a change. To me he is just the establishment. If you keep electing the same people the same thing is going to happen.

  23. Steven Davis II

    Why the hate for Courson? Because he’s a Democrat deep down. It’s time for him to go and retire to gardening in his front yard.

  24. `Kathryn Braun

    So, SDII–why vote for a Democrat (Rikard) because you think Courson is basically a Democrat? Think!

  25. Steven Davis II

    @Kathryn – I can’t vote for either, you’re the one who has the difficult choice of choosing between two Democrats. You Think!

  26. tavis micklash

    “`Kathryn Braun says:

    So, SDII–why vote for a Democrat (Rikard) because you think Courson is basically a Democrat? Think!”

    I don’t think that Rikard will win. If he does it is a clear message to all the other do nothings in the senate (you know the ones who fought to keep challengers of the ballot over a technicality).

    A man who has been in since 1984 has no other choice than running on his record.

    Here are some highlights from last year

    – Primary Sponsor of a the EX-IM Bank which gives govt subsidies out to well connected people and is prone to fraud since there is little oversight.

    – 42 commendation to some party or another. For example creating Ronald Reagan day.

    Sure while Rikard if he is elected will reduce the pork flowing into the district since he won’t have the same seniority.

    He will also back ethics reforms he claims on his website,

    “Meaningful ethics reform will be an important first step for restoring the public’s faith in state government. South Carolina’s ethics laws need some teeth. Public disclosure requirements should be improved and enforced. Clearer restrictions should also be placed on what special interests cannot do to influence elections and elected officials. Any money donated to a campaign or committee seeking to influence the public should be fully disclosed.”

    So while it may not be my ideal candidate It is a shalke up to the senate.

    So the direction of district 20 may change I think the overall effect on the state will improve from a change in senate leadership.

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