You can vote absentee in next week's runoff for Hilton Head mayor

Hilton Head Island voters have until 5 p.m. Monday to cast absentee ballots in the Nov. 16 mayoral runoff between Tom Crews and Drew Laughlin.

Those who voted absentee in the general election and ask to participate in the runoff by absentee ballot will automatically have a ballot mailed to them, according to Scott Marshall, executive director of the county elections office.

All mailed ballots must be received by the Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration and Elections no later than 7 p.m. Nov. 16.

Those who did not vote absentee in the general election but wish to vote absentee in the runoff should fill out an application and cast a ballot at one of the county's two elections offices, Marshall said.

Hilton Head voters can fill out applications and cast ballots from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Friday at either the Bluffton Recreation Center, 61-B Ulmer Road, or the main elections office in Beaufort at 15 John Galt Road. Offices will be closed Thursday for Veterans Day.

Absentee voters can vote 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. at both places on the Monday before the election.

For those voting by mail, an absentee ballot application can be requested in person, by phone, mail, e-mail or fax. Completed applications must be returned to the county elections office by 5 p.m. Friday.

Applications can be returned in person or by mail, e-mail or fax. An absentee ballot will then be mailed. Ballots must be returned in person or by mail.

"A week is not a lot of time to turn that mail around," Marshall said. "Your best option is to make it to the absentee polling location."

Lines and wait times to vote should be significantly shorter for the runoff, Marshall said.

"There's only one question on the ballot, not a six-page ballot like there was during the general election," Marshall said. "That should mean quicker voting."

Voter turnout in the midterm election was "incredible" all over the county, including on Hilton Head, he said. About 50 percent of the island's more than 25,700 registered voters cast ballots in the election, according to state voting records.

Turnout countywide was about 54 percent, compared to 45 percent voter turnout in the 2006 midterm elections.

Marshall, though, was cautious about predicting runoff turnout.

"Municipal elections are very hard to gauge. The runoff should generate a lot of interest, but that may not equate to a heavy turnout," he said.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 16. Those not registered to vote in the general election will not be able to vote in the runoff.