Mild temperatures and heightened interest in the race for the Republican Party's presidential nomination is helping spur strong turnout in Beaufort County today in the state's presidential primary.
About 15,000 to 16,000 ballots have been cast since polls opened at 7 a.m., said Scott Marshall, executive director of the Beaufort County’s Board of Voter Registration and Elections.
"We've been really pleased with the turnout," Marshall said. "At about noon, we hit the 15 percent mark, and I think we’re going to end up eclipsing 25 percent. That’s assuming that people don't just stay home for the rest of the day."
About 24 percent of the county’s electorate voted in the 2008 GOP primary, according to county records.
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Marshall said poll managers have not reported any problems with voting machines or other hangups.
"We've had some lines at a few of the precincts, but the lines move pretty quickly because there's only question on the ballot," Marshall said.
Lines this afternoon at several northern Beaufort County precincts were short or in some cases nonexistent, which pleased voters like John Smalls of Lady's Island.
"I wasn't sure what to expect," Smalls said. "Given the interest in all of the candidates, I figured there might be a line, but it was quick. I was in and out."
The polls close at 7 p.m.