More SC voters come out to vote early compared to June primaries

Rising prices, a struggling economy, the right to choose women, and civic duty as citizens — there are many reasons South Carolina residents are venturing out early to vote.

Since the state enacted legislation expanding early voting, more people have voted ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm elections than they did in June before the primaries, according to the latest reported numbers. by the SC Election Commission.

In just one week since early voting began, between Oct. 24 and Oct. 29, 238,461 voters — about 7% of the 3.3 million registered voters — cast ballots at polling places across the state. That’s double the number of voters who voted early in the June primaries.

Meanwhile, there has also been an increase in requests by voters to send their vote by mail. While in June 25,916 voters requested postal voting, the midterm election saw more than double the number of requests to 75,159.

These trends are generally expected as voters tend to prioritize voting in major elections over primaries, but an accurate picture of how advanced voting went will be clearer closer to the date. elections, as the votes are still being registered.

The Greenville News and the Spartanburg Herald Journal traveled to different parts of the two counties to assess the issues that motivate people to vote and get out early. They have not been asked to say who they are voting for.

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Of the many people reporters approached over the course of a week – in parks, neighborhoods and field offices, 46 voters responded. Of the 46, only nine said they were comfortable being filmed or being recorded.

The majority of those who refused said they did not want to add to the divisive nature of the policy. They have friends with opposing views and they want to keep their opinions about what motivates them to vote private. Near Laurens Road in Greenville, a young group of four voters aged 19 to 21 did not know there was an election coming up, and a voter from a ward in the same ward declined because he thought that it would affect his business.

As of October 21, Greenville County had the most registered voters in the state at 344,310. Spartanburg County had 202,738 registered voters, and Anderson County had 124,330. Together, they make up 20 % of registered voters in the state.

The country is struggling, the state is thriving, but voters have different opinions on why

Among older voters, between 45 and 64, an air of anxiety pervades every response. There were worries about what the future might look like for the next generation, if their children or grandchildren would face insurmountable challenges. Rising utility prices and inflation were a common thread between them. But their responses diverged when perceptions of choice and morality came into play.

Vietnam veteran Donald Craig, 74, is a lifelong Republican. “Some of the things that come to mind are the economy first and foremost,” he said, “there are moral values ​​at stake, the general state of our country, anarchy, funding of the police movement by certain factions – I’m worried about my children, I’m worried about my grandchildren.”

Vietnam War veteran Donald Craig, 74, poses for a portrait on the Swamp Rabbit Trail on Tuesday, October 25, 2022.

“I’m just worried about people in general, and I think we need to learn to get along, to love one another, and to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, and the world will be a better place,” did he declare.

Craig, who tends to vote along partisan lines, said he would always vote Republican. However, he said he doesn’t think Republicans have all the answers.

“I’m not convinced that all Republicans are who they say they are. But it’s something to think about and seriously think about,” he said.

Ralph Settle, a local real estate professional in the city of Spartanburg, said he votes every year but closely follows the gubernatorial race between incumbent Governor Henry McMaster and former U.S. Representative Joe Cunningham.

“I think Governor McMaster has done a great job for us. Our state is thriving and thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to see economic development here in Spartanburg County, record announcements with BMW invests $1.7 billion on top of $2 billion figure for 2022“A lot of that comes down to his leadership, his trading and OneSpartanburg.”

Economic success, he said, was the reason he was voting this year.

Outside his Gantt home, Terry Gamble said he’s independent and usually chooses sides based on the policies that matter most to him. As a business owner, the economy is a big concern for him, but so is choice. Specifically, he says, the choice of women.

Terry Gamble, 66, owner of Positive Outlook Painting, poses for a portrait at work on Tuesday, October 25, 2022.

“If you start changing the rights of all people, then everyone’s rights can be changed at any time,” Gamble said, adding that he was also concerned about climate change and the alarm bells that are blowing. have been sounded by scientists. Gamble said he’s leaning toward the Democrats for this election cycle and is hopeful as President Joe Biden’s approval ratings have improved.

Women voters outnumber men: will reproductive rights be a major issue?

While it’s hard to paint a picture of what really motivates voters, women voters interviewed by The News said access to abortion is a big factor in voting this election cycle.

In the Gantt District, not far from the Mt. Pleasant Community Center, Shelby Skinner, 45, sat in her van.

“I’m about to even everything out,” Skinner said, describing how voters were beleaguered by the struggling economy and high inflation. But for her, access to abortion has a lot to do with which party she votes for. “I feel like a woman shouldn’t be told what to do with her body,” she said.

District 25 resident Shelby Skinner, 45, poses for a portrait in her district on Tuesday, October 25, 2022.

According to election statistics, women outnumber men when it comes to voting in South Carolina.

Majority of them tend to be white and in the age group between 45 and 64 years old. Many of these women were either toddlers or old enough to be teenagers when the United States Supreme Court issued the landmark judgment on Roe. v Wade in 1973, which guaranteed access to abortion.

But at the county level, young women between the ages of 25 and 44 dominate Greenville County’s voter base. In Spartanburg, there is a marginal difference between the two age groups. Skinner straddled the line between the two age groups and said it was imperative for her to vote. “If you don’t vote, you don’t have a voice,” she said.

Several election observers have viewed Gen Z voters, or the group of voters between the ages of 18 and 24, as the game-changing voting bloc in any election. Nationally, Democrats have tried to connect with Gen Z voters on burning issues like access to abortion, which they say could tip the scales in their favor.

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Focusing on generational divides is a strategy that is most visible during the recent gubernatorial debate where Democratic candidate Joe Cunningham highlighted how he differed from Governor Henry McMaster due to their opposing views on access. to abortion.

The generational link appears to be working for some younger voters.

At Furman University, 19-year-old Ella Fillippo fell into the category dominated by younger, more politically active voters. Fillippo, who is from Clemson, said while she doesn’t agree with all of Cunningham’s policies, she leans towards him.

Meanwhile, sophomore Ellie Howard will vote in the Georgia election. But the issues that concern her cross state lines and have similarities to what many other women have said. “Politics with education, policing, abortion – all of those things somehow, personally, contribute to why I vote.”

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