Take a rain-soaked day, throw in one of the most confusing primaries in recent memory, and what you end up with is an election with one of the most abysmal turnout rates in the states history in more than a decade.
Poll workers across the Midlands on Tuesday reported unusually low numbers, some in the single digits. State election officials mirrored those reports, saying turnout was light 11.85 percent. The most recent previous low was in 2006, when 17.6 percent of registered voters cast ballots.
This number is far below what weve seen in any recent statewide primaries, said state election commission spokesman Chris Whitmire.
Of the 44 counties that participated in the primaries, 20 posted turnouts of 10 percent or lower. In Richland County, 3.67 percent voted.
Numbers were especially bad where candidates had been disqualified and races were canceled.
Almost 300 polling places in 14 counties were closed Tuesday after an S.C. Supreme Court decision removed about 250 candidates from the ballot. Also adding to the low turnout was the lack of a statewide primary race.
Its been really slow, Linda Allred, a poll worker in Columbias Woodlands precinct, said at midafternoon. The historically high-turnout district had just tipped over 11 percent.
Were going to be lucky to make 20 percent, said fellow poll worker Marc Posner.
Both Allred and Posner were using the down time to get a jump on their summer reading. Posner had downloaded several items to read on his Kindle in anticipation of a slow day and was glad he did.
Over in the heart of Shandon, at Hand Middle School, Jean and William Arrington didnt let a little rain stand in their way.
In fact, Jean Arrington had just been released from the hospital the day before. Still wearing hospital socks and sporting swollen legs from a surgical procedure, the 80-year-old was determined to get to the polls, even if her husband had to wheel her in.
One vote counts a lot, she said.
A Joe Wilson supporter, Arrington said she wanted to make sure she cast her vote for the congressman.
Turnout in S.C. primaries
Tuesdays turnout: 11.85 percent (of 2.3 million voters eligible to vote, 278,567 cast ballots)
Richland: 3.67 percent
Lexington: 11 percent
Lowest turnout in past 14 years: In 2006, with 17.6 percent
Highest turnout in past 14 years: In 1998, with 26.7 percent