Large turnout seen at polls this morning

November 2, 2010 

Jeff Kidd, The Beaufort Gazette

Volunteer Ryan Bell holds a campaign sign for Bill Evans as motorists pass by on U.S. 21 on Lady's Island early Tuesday. Evans is running against Robert White for the District 7 seat on the Beaufort County Board of Education. Bell set up near campaign signs for other candidates at the intersection of Airport Circle, not far from Lady's Island 3B precinct. Bell, originally from Charleston, is a college friend of Evans' stepson, David Hislop, and now lives in Colorado. He was pressed into duty while visiting on vacation.


Lines were longer than usual for a mid-term election, but no major snafus have been reported as voting got under way across Beaufort County today, poll workers say.

In southern Beaufort County, large crowds were seen at Hilton Head Plantation and in Bluffton.

North of the Broad River, Lady’s Island precincts reported heavier-than-usual turnout for off-cycle elections. Herbert Jamison, a poll manager at the Lady’s Island Airport, said 945 voters are registered in Lady’s Island Precinct 3B, and 35 of them had voted by 7:15 a.m., nearly triple the turnout at that point in the last mid-terms in 2006.

A poll manger at Coosa Island Elementary said a line of about 20 had formed before the polls opened at 7 a.m. About 1,450 voters are registered in Lady’s Island Precinct 2A, and 118 had voted by 9:05 a.m.

Down the road at Broomfield Recreation Center, about 195 of 1,905 registered voters had cast ballots at Lady’s Island 3A by 9:50 a.m., according to poll manager Frank Hamilton.

Hamilton reported just one glitch — one of the five machines there wasn’t working properly early in the morning, but a county worker had it up and running again by about 7:50 a.m., he said.

Elsewhere, voters were not as fortunate.

In Kershaw County, near Columbia, computerized voter registration lists were indicating the wrong ballot style, according to The (Columbia) State newspaper.

For example, at least one voter was set up on a voting machine with a ballot that had the wrong S.C. House district, said Rosalind Watson, director of elections for the county. That voter realized the ballot was wrong, notified poll workers and the ballot was canceled.

The voting machines themselves are working fine, Watson said. She instructed poll workers to use paper lists of voters and ballots to work around the laptop registration list problem.

Poll workers resorted to paper ballots at Elgin Town Hall while working out the computer problem. One voter there said he gave up and left when the precinct ran out of paper ballots. Another voter e-mailed The State to complain that his ballot didn’t list the Kershaw County sheriff’s race.

In Beaufort County, most candidates were trying to get out the vote and trying to find time to vote themselves.

“I’ve usually voted by now,” Bill Evans said at about 9 a.m. Evans is running against Robert White to represent Lady’s Island and parts of Pigeon Point and Dataw Island on the Beaufort County Board of Education. He was waving a campaign sign at motorists as they passed Coosa Elementary, and campaign volunteers did likewise at other Lady’s Island precincts. “I’m one of those who usually like to be there first thing, as soon as the polls open.”

A little later, Evans made his way to his precinct, voting at Broomfield where Jim Bequette, the man he hopes to replace on the board, did last-minute stumping — just beyond the legal distance from the poll entrance — for Evans’ opponent, whom he endorsed early in the race.

“I talked Robert into running, so I figured I had better help him out,” Bequette quipped.

Reporter Josh McCann and The (Columbia) State contributed to this report.

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