SC politics: 26,000 absentee ballots cast in state primaries

June 6, 2014 

FIE PHOTO: Counting absentee ballots in Richland County

THE STATE

26,000 absentee ballots cast in SC primaries

More than 26,000 votes have been cast in next week’s S.C. primaries, according to the State Election Commission.

The pace of voting is a little slower than the primaries four years ago, but well ahead of the pace in 2012, when there were no statewide races on the ballot.

As of Friday afternoon, S.C. voters have requested almost 34,000 absentee ballots for Tuesday’s primaries, with more than three-quarters of them already returned. More than six in 10 of those ballots were for the GOP primary.

The turnout is a little slower than the 2010 primaries when 39,000 absentee votes were cast. Those primaries had contested governor races in both parties, while this year, there are primaries for the U.S. Senate seats occupied by both Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott. Graham is running for a third full term, while the winner of Scott’s race would get to serve the final two years of the term of Jim DeMint, who resigned in 2012.

The number of absentee ballots cast this year has nearly already passed the numbers in 2012 with four days left before the primaries. Two years ago, just 27,000 absentee votes were cast in a year that saw no statewide candidates on the ballot.

Officials say about 16,500 of the 21,200 absentee ballots requested for the GOP races have been returned, while about 9,700 of the 12,500 ballots sent out for the Democratic primary are already in hand.

Scott hears veterans’ concerns

S.C. veterans shared their frustrations in getting Veterans Affairs health care with U.S. Sen. Tim Scott on Friday amid news that new VA facilities could ease the problem of getting care along the coast.

Scott listened to veterans in North Charleston and planned to move on to Greenville and Lexington.

A day earlier, a bipartisan Senate bill proposed that 26 new medical facilities in 18 states be leased by the VA, including a walk-in clinic in Myrtle Beach and a primary care and dental annex in Charleston.

Scott, speaking in North Charleston, said senators want to provide more access but did not want to discuss Myrtle Beach and Charleston.

“There’s no doubt we’re looking for more opportunities to expand care in South Carolina. I don’t want to speak specifically to locations until we actually have a bill that is passed. I don’t want to create false hope,” he said.

He said it was hard to hear veterans’ stories about health care and spoke to two wives who lost their husbands because of delayed cancer care. He said vets routinely wait a long time for appointments sometimes just to have those appointments rescheduled.

“The level of frustration feeds the toxic environment that the VA has not met the timeline or the quality they have promised veterans,” Scott said.

The Associated Press

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