Voting has closed in South Carolina's Democratic presidential primary, with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the projected winner over U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
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Several news organizations, including the Associated Press, are calling the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary for Hillary Clinton, just moments after polls closed.
Black voters may make up an even bigger share of the electorate in the South Carolina Democratic primary than they did in 2008, when Barack Obama was running. Early exit polls in the contest Saturday suggest about 6 in 10 voters are black, the Associated Press reported.
In the surveys, nearly half of voters — whether black or white — say racial relations have deteriorated in the last few years. Voters in South Carolina are more worried about jobs and the economy than people who voted in previous Democratic contests.
Income inequality, though, is less of a worry in South Carolina than it has been elsewhere. That issue is the centerpiece of Bernie Sanders' campaign against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination.
It has been a good day for Charleston County Board of Elections Director Joe Debney.
Voter turnout has been stronger than expected, but problems have been few and far between, Debney said. "It has been a great, quiet day in terms of phone calls and what not," Debney said.
"In terms of turnout, it's been really good. I was worried that it wouldn't be, but it has been really good." Debney said it appears some numbers "look like they're on par with the '08 data." "I think it's going really, really well today," he said.
However, Sam Selph struggles to find a word that would adequately describe how bad turnout in Richland County has been today.
"It's just terribly low based on everything that I've seen and I've heard," said Selph, Richland County's Elections Commission director.
Richland County went for Democrat Barack Obama in each of the past two elections and has gained population since 2012.
Nonetheless, some precincts in "Democratic strongholds" early this afternoon reported turnout numbers in the low triple digits, and Selph doesn't think he had heard of any precinct with more than 400 voters by midday Saturday.
Selph said he wouldn't expect more than 40,000 votes in Richland County, down from the more than 63,000 Richland County residents who cast votes in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. Selph said he has been surprised at the number of residents who don't know where to vote, given the Elections Commission's efforts since late last year to spread that information.
"There's been a lot of that today," Selph said.
Lexington County voting turnout has picked up since this morning, according to Dean Crepes, director of the county's Commission of Registration and Elections. Crepes said turnout was light this morning and now is "slow but steady."
"Maybe people are getting out since it's warming up," said Crepes, who still estimates Lexington County turnout will finish at about 18 percent. The day hasn't been free of hiccups, though. There was confusion among voters after two precincts had to be relocated because of the Lexington's Race Against Hunger event, Crepes said.
A precinct at Saxe Gotha Presbyterian Church in Lexington was moved to a church at 501 Whiteford Way, and a precinct at Lexington Middle School was moved to the American Legion post at 211 American Legion Drive in Lexington, Crepes said.
Both precincts were in the race's roadway, Crepes said. He said the Registration and Elections staff put out signs at each precinct telling people where to vote but that some voters have come to his office with questions.
"We're just rolling along," Crepes said. "We're taking care of voter concerns."
Apparently, Bernie Sanders supporters have a new way to connect.
Founded by an Arizona State University student as a joke, Berniesingles.com offers an online space for supporters of the senator from Vermont to meet up. Thousands of users have signed up for the dating website since its recent launch. The site is free, and it says it connects its users with "other people who understand the world!"
Lei Horne, 60, of Beaufort said she voted for Hillary Clinton on Saturday because "we've seen presidential politics from a man's perspective for long enough." And 73-year-old Bluffton resident Barry Rosen voted against Clinton, saying he preferred U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders' wage equality policies.
"I voted for Sanders because I think his policies on wage equality will give my grandkids a chance at the American Dream I want for them," said Rosen, a retired museum director.
In Rock Hill, 49-year-old loan adjuster Michelle Roseborough voted for Hillary Clinton, citing her experience.
“I felt like she had the most experience with her being a former senator and she was also the Secretary of State," Roseborough said. "I feel like she has already developed relationships with presidents or other people who are in a presidential position, so I feel like she’s the most experienced and most suited person for the job.”
Lancaster real estate business owner Linda Blackmon-Brace said she had similar reasons for picking Clinton today.
"I am a die-hard Hillary fan," Blackmon Brace, 60, said. "I think it is about her qualifications and experience. I've been out since 2015 campaigning for her. I think she's the most qualified for the position."
But in Chester County, 20-year-old college student Khalil Davis cast his first-ever vote for Sanders.
“I voted for Bernie Sanders because I feel like his political views fit what I want for the country, and I feel like he is going to make it better for me and my fellow peers," Davis said.
In Myrtle Beach, 27-year-old teacher Guinivere Fouts stuck with her gut in voting for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“I voted for Hillary Clinton because I’ve been a long time supporter of hers," Fouts said. "I’ve liked her for a long time. I like her plans, and I think she’s the best person for the job right now."
But 62-year-old truck driver A.J. DeMatteo voted for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders because he believes Sanders has no corporate masters. "I voted for Bernie Sanders, and the reason I did is because he seems to be the only one who isn’t bought off by big corporations," said DeMatteo, from Myrtle Beach.
Several Richland County residents, most who said they don't have Internet access, have called The State newspaper today saying their precinct had been changed and asking where they should vote. That's likely because Richland County since 2012 has added 24 new precincts and consolidated others, said Elections Commission Director Sam Selph.
Selph said Richland County published notices of the changes and sent letters to voters affected by the changes. Richland County residents can find their precincts online here or by calling 576-2240.
A full list of Richland County precincts can be found here.
Reports from precincts throughout the state "seem to indicate low turnout with pockets of moderate turnout so far," according to S.C. Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire.
He added that balloting is going "pretty smoothly" and that he is not aware of any major problems in opening precincts today. That's an improvement from the GOP presidential primary last Saturday, when some machines briefly malfunctioned and polling managers struggled to open a few precincts on time.
"That may be the advantage of doing back-to-back Saturday primaries," Whitmire said. "Poll managers just did this a week ago." The 53,000 absentee ballots already returned in the Democratic primary has blown past the 35,000 cast in the 2008 primary, Whitmire said.
That isn't necessarily indicative of overall turnout, as absentee turnout has trended upward in recent years, he said. Whitmire urged voters to bring photo IDs with them to polling locations, and to bring their voter registration cards if they do not have their photo IDs. Voters can find their precincts here.
Greenville county's predominantly Democratic precincts have had "brisk" voter turnout so far, according to Conway Belangia, director of the county's Voter Registration and Election Office. Belangia didn't want to estimate how turnout in Greenville County would compare to the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, when 19.2 percent of voters made it out to the polls.
Belangia said Greenville County precincts so far have had no major problems.
Meanwhile, LouElla Williams, a 64-year-old insurance claims examiner, said she voted for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Seven Oaks Presbyterian Church in Columbia. "I want her to make sure we keep the healthcare act," Williams said. "I have a grandson, he's 23, and it's real important he's able to stay on my insurance until he's 26."
Poll workers across South Carolina are dealing with the challenge of handling their second statewide election in a week, which is unusual. Even with a runoff in a statewide race in South Carolina there are two weeks between voting.
Republicans voted in their presidential primary last week and Democrats are voting Saturday.
Chris Whitmire of the S.C. Election Commission told The Associated Press that during the past week elections offices were fielding questions about two elections. He said hundreds of voting machines had to be reprogrammed and there can be a challenge getting poll workers to work two Saturdays in a row.
But Whitmire says that everything has been going smoothly on Saturday and the upside to having two elections in a row is any kinks in the process were worked out a week ago.
Charleston County Board of Elections Director Joe Debney expects voter turnout today to be "roughly the same as last week." Debney said Charleston County is "pretty much split right down the middle" between Republicans and Democrats.
So turnout today should mirror the county's roughly 20 percent turnout for the state's GOP presidential primary last Saturday, he said.
That would be down from Charleston County's voter turnout, about 27.2 percent, during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. Debney said turnout was "fairly strong" early this morning and should pick up again around lunchtime and later this afternoon. He said he was not aware of any issues at the precincts so far.
Charles Jefferson, a 44-year-old, said he voted for Hillary Clinton because she can take down real estate mogul and GOP front runner Donald Trump in the general election. "Bernie Sanders is a little bit too old for me, and I definitely don't want Donald Trump," Jefferson said outside the Greenview Park precinct. "That's why I voted for Hillary -- I think she has the best chance to fight against Donald Trump."
The Richland County Elections Commission is reminding voters who received absentee ballots by mail that they have until 7 p.m. today to return those ballots to the Richland County Elections and Voter Registration Office.
The commission said it has more than 750 poll workers and 29 polling location technicians in addition to its Elections and Voter Registration staff.
"These individuals will assist our office in ensuring that today's election runs smoothly," the news release said.
In Lexington County, voting precincts are "rocking and rolling" but turnout has been slow, according to Dean Crepes, director of the county's Commission of Registration and Elections.
Crepes said he would expect about 18 percent voter turnout in Lexington County. "It's kind of slow this morning," Crepes said. "Unless it picks up when it gets warmer, I might be eating my words, but I don't mind doing that." Crepes said some Lexington County precincts had equipment errors that were resolved before polls opened. No major problems have surfaced since voting started at 7 a.m., he said.
Kayana Hendricks, 22, voted at Meadowlake Park for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, citing his inclusiveness. "I feel like he's more into making everybody happy, instead of just one race or rich people or poor people."
The South Carolina Democratic primary so far has brought "not a whole lot of excitement" to Richland County voting precincts, county Elections Commission Director Sam Selph said.
"There have been basically no issues to talk about," he said. Selph said all Richland County precincts opened on time and that a few minor glitches were quickly resolved. No residents have had trouble voting so far, he said.
Selph said he expects about 40,000 people will vote in Richland County today, down from the 2008 state Democratic primary that brought more than 63,000 voters to the polls. "We refer to that as the Obama factor," Selph said
Hillary Clinton picked up a vote from 57-year-old computer programmer DeAndre Brabham at Keenan High School today.
"The United States needs to do a shift," Brabham said. "Our thinking is so conservative. To have a female as president, after having an African-American as president, will give the country another opportunity to shed old resentments and come on into the new era where we are."
Hillary Clinton won't be in South Carolina until later today, and Bernie Sanders won't make it to the Palmetto State at all on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in the state's Democratic primary.
Heavily favored to win in South Carolina, Clinton will spend part of the day in Alabama, which has its primary on Tuesday. The former secretary of state will appear at a12:45 p.m. rally in Birmingham. She will hold her primary night watch party at 7 p.m. at the University of South Carolina's volleyball center on Blossom Street in Columbia.
Considered by some pundits to have already conceded South Carolina to Clinton, Sanders will make stops at rallies in Austin and Dallas, Texas, before moving on to Minnesota. The senator from Vermont is scheduled to appear at a 5:30 p.m. rally today in Rochester, Minn. Texas and Minnesota both have Republican and Democratic primaries on Tuesday.
South Carolina residents voting as the polls open this morning might want to bring a jacket, but they won't have to worry about rain.
Weather forecasts call for highs in the high 50s and lows in the high 30s. It's expected to be sunny, with no chance of precipitation.
Voting is underway in South Carolina's Democratic presidential primary, in which former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
The State will provide updates from around the state and the Midlands throughout the day.
Pre-election polls indicated Clinton holds a commanding lead, a margin of 64 percent to 14 percent among likely voters who have cast ballots in two of the last three statewide primaries, according to Clemson University’s Palmetto Poll. A CBS News poll produced similar results.
The poll, taken between Saturday and Thursday, found 22 percent of voters were undecided ahead of the primary Saturday.
Here's a look at primary and caucus winners so far:
And here's a look at the candidates: