Politics & Government

Election Day in SC: 5 races to watch, what you need to know

James Smith votes, is encouraged by campaign for SC governor

Candidate for South Carolina Governor James Smith spoke to the media after he voted at A.C. Moore Elementary School in Columbia, SC.
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Candidate for South Carolina Governor James Smith spoke to the media after he voted at A.C. Moore Elementary School in Columbia, SC.

Today is decision day for S.C. voters.

Voters will head to the polls and decide who they want to be their governor, who will represent them in Congress or at the S.C. House, who will fill one Midlands state Senate seat and who will hold seven statewide constitutional offices — and whether one of them should be elected at all.

Here’s what you should know before you head out to vote this Election Day.

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Who’s running? 5 races to watch

Among the races on the ballot.

Gov. Henry McMaster, a Columbia Republican, is running for his first full term after he succeeded then-Gov. Nikki Haley last year, when she resigned to join the Trump administration. McMaster and his lieutenant governor-running mate Pamela Evette, a Greenville businesswoman, are facing Democrat state Rep. James Smith of Columbia and his running mate, state Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell, D-Lancaster. The Democratic nominee for governor is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who has been in the S.C. House for 22 years.

Attorney General Alan Wilson is seeking his third term as the state’s top prosecutor. The Lexington Republican faces Democrat Constance Anastopoulo, a College of Charleston law professor.

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In the Columbia area, two candidates are running for an open state Senate seat. Attorney Dick Harpootlian, a former chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party, is running against Chapin attorney Benjamin Dunn, an Afghanistan veteran and one-time primary challenger to U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, in the District 20 race, representing parts of Richland and Lexington counties.

Even as voters decide whether Molly Spearman deserves a second term as the state’s education superintendent, they will decide whether to change the state Constitution to end the election of the superintendent. A “yes” vote to the ballot amendment question would allow the governor to appoint the superintendent in the future. A “no” vote would keep the head of the state Education Department a separately elected position.

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Three Midlands school districts are asking their voters to allow them to borrow for new construction projects. Richland 2 wants to replace two elementary schools and build two new athletic stadiums, among other improvements. Lexington 1 wants to build new elementary schools and make improvements to others. Lexington 3 would borrow money to rebuild Batesburg-Leesville High School and renovate Batesburg-Leesville Primary School.

You can view a full sample ballot online before you head to the polls at SCVotes.org.

Whether you're new to the state or need a refresher, South Carolina's voting machines are simple to use.

When can I vote?

Polls throughout the Palmetto State are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. If you are standing in line at 7 p.m., the polls have to stay open until you get the chance to cast your ballot.

Where do I vote?

You can find your polling place online at SCVotes.org.

SC voter IDs

S.C. law says that you need one of these IDs to vote:

A S.C. driver’s license

A photo ID issued by the state Department of Motor Vehicles

A photo voter registration card

A military ID

A U.S. passport

But you can vote even if you don’t have one

Would-be voters without a photo ID can vote if they can cite a “reasonable impediment” to getting one. Among the acceptable excuses:

A disability or illness

A work conflict

A lack of transportation

Family responsibilities

A lack of a birth certificate

A religious objection to being photographed

Candidate for South Carolina Governor James Smith spoke to the media after he voted at A.C. Moore Elementary School in Columbia, SC.