Registration deadline looms for Hilton Head Town Council special election

Hilton Head Island Ward 3 voters have until Saturday to register for the Feb. 15 special election to fill a Town Council seat.

Voter registration applications must be postmarked by Saturday. Residents can register in person up until Friday at 15 John Galt Road in Beaufort or 61-B Ulmer Road in Bluffton. The Beaufort office is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Bluffton office is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The special election is open only to voters registered in Ward 3, which includes Spanish Wells, Wexford, Long Cove Club, Indigo Run, Point Comfort and Shipyard Plantation. The election will include parts of Precincts 2A, 2C and 10; and all of Precincts 8B, 9A and 9B.

Five candidates are vying for the Town Council seat vacated by the new mayor, Drew Laughlin.

Candidates are Beaufort County Councilman Steven Baer, 67; Lee Edwards, 43, president and CEO of a Hilton Head-based landscaping company; marketing representative Ryan McAvoy, 31; marketing consultant David Warren, 55; and retired money manager Peter Zych, 70.

Laughlin's Ward 3 council term expires in December 2012. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters will head to a runoff March 1.

The new council member will take office during the first regularly scheduled Town Council meeting after election results are certified.


Voters may request an absentee ballot by contacting the Beaufort County Board of Elections and Registration at 843-255-6900, by e-mail at voter@bcgov.net or by fax at 843-255-9429 or at elections offices in Beaufort and Bluffton.

Applications for an absentee ballot must be turned in by Feb. 11.

Voters may cast absentee ballots in person at either county elections office beginning Jan. 18. Polling hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Those wishing to vote absentee if a runoff is necessary should so indicate on their application. An absentee ballot will automatically be mailed to them, said Beaufort County elections chief Scott Marshall. Turnaround time for mailing of absentee ballots is short for a runoff election, so residents are urged to cast absentee votes in person in the event of a runoff.

"At most, there's 10 days to mail back and forth after the election results are certified. Plus, you have a holiday that falls during that span -- President's Day," Marshall said. "It's a very tight timetable."

Those who do not vote in the Feb. 15 election may vote in a runoff election, as long as they met the Jan. 15 voter registration deadline and all other eligibility requirements, Marshall said.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 15. Absentee ballots must be received at either county elections office by 7 p.m. the day of the election.

By state law, absentee ballots handed to poll workers at island precinct locations cannot be counted.