Hudie Evans, a pollster with Edison Research, sits outside the Ward 2 polling place, Main Street United Methodist Church, in downtown Columbia. (Photo by Jade Crooks)
Midlands polls generally were seeing a steady turnout Tuesday. Some poll workers expect longer lines later in the day.
Few voting complications have been reported.
The South Forest Acres precinct, which votes at A.C. Flora High School, had seen about 190 voters by 11:20 a.m., according to poll clerks. The precinct has around 1,600 registered voters. Dutch Fork High School, where the Dutch Fork 1 and 2 precincts were voting, had seen 557 votes as of 12:43 p.m. Piney Woods Elementary, the polling place for the Amicks Ferry precinct, had seen 391 ballots cast at 10:27 a.m.
Ward 4’s Logan Elementary School was bustling as people walked up to the school to vote. Before 11 a.m., 284 people already had cast their votes.
Some said they showed up to vote to perform their civic duty or sustain democracy.
Other voters told The Carolina News & Reporter they were interested in the gubernatorial election and the superintendent of education race. Women’s rights also were on the minds of many voters.
Meredith Arnua, 54, said she decided to vote at Cayce Ward 3’s Cayce United Methodist Church because she wanted to vote for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joe Cunningham.
“Autonomy over my own body would be great,” Arnau said.
Tyler Clark, 33, voted at the same location and echoed Arnua.
“Specifically for governor, … I’m just not happy with the incumbent,” Clark said. “So I just wanted to make a change and hope for something that can make positive impacts to everybody in the state.”
Cunningham has made banning legislation restricting abortion a key point in his campaign, alongside legalizing marijuana and sports-betting.
Dora Woodrow, 63, voted at Satchel Ford Elementary School just after noon.
She said she was interested in putting Republican Gov. Henry McMaster back in office and voting in Lisa Ellis, a Democrat, as state superintendent.
Woodrow said she thinks voting is the most important right American citizens have.
“I’m not American by birth, I’m Cuban, and my love for this country is beyond anything besides God and my family,” Woodrow said. “So I feel a need to … exercise my right. … So many people don’t have that right.”
The North Forest Acres precinct, which votes at Trenholm Park, had seen 144 voters as of 10 a.m.
David Abdulrahman, 21, a senior biology major at the University of South Carolina, voted at Ward 2’s Main Street United Methodist Church in Columbia at 8:35 a.m. He said he usually votes but especially wanted to vote today.
It’s a “pretty important election for women’s rights,” Abdulrahman said. “Particularly in local elections, I think there’s a kind of understatement in terms of the relevance of our daily lives. I’m generally politically active, so I feel like local elections are where I can play my role best.”
Among the 1,104 voters registered in Pennington Precinct 1, which votes at the Kings Grant Club House, is first-time voter Sofie Jones, who’s 18.
Abortion is the most important issue for her, the high school senior said.
“I’m at a pretty pivotal age in regards to the rulings that are being made,” Jones said.
Poll clerk Angela Fulkes said turnout at Ward 30’s Arsenal Hill Park in downtown Columbia was higher than normal — 145 people had voted by 9:30 a.m.
Pivotal rulings, particularly on abortion, were on the minds of voters such as Cass Hurley, 21. She said voting in this midterm is important to protect the rights of South Carolina residents.
“I’m one of those people who’s really nervous about all of the other things that could be overturned by the Supreme Court, and I don’t want McMaster to be in charge if that were to happen,” Hurley said.
In 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the longtime federal legal right to an abortion into a woman’s second trimester. South Carolina has been in a state of legislative back-and-forth ever since, with no decision about a new law on the books as yet. McMaster’s stance on abortion is generally supportive of tighter restrictions.
Another highly watched election is the superintendent of education contest between Ellis, and Ellen Weaver, a Republican who was granted a masters degree in education — required for the job — from Bob Jones University in Greenville just last month.
Scott Bilou, 43, is typically a straight-ticket Republican voter. But this year, the candidates for superintendent of education made him change his mind. He said his decision to vote for Ellis instead of Weaver was influenced by Weaver’s controversial masters degree.
“I got a lot of friends that are teachers,” Bilou said. “So they know better than I do.”
Michael Sauls, Jade Crooks, Char Morrison and Paxton Rountree contributed to this reporting.