Cold, wet weather keeps many at home

On a cold, miserable winter’sday across South Carolina — inwhich GOP primary voters wereplagued by a steady rain andthreatened with the possibility ofsnow and ice — turnout was ashadow of the record-setting numbersof eight years ago.

An estimated 440,000 voters —about 13 percent of registered voters— went to the polls. That’sabout 125,000 fewer than turnedout for the 2000 Republican primary.

But veteran voters ignored theelements and marched to the polls.

“I believe in democracy,” said64-year-old Rosa Clark of Columbia,who pressed her way throughthe wet to her poll at Park StreetBaptist Church in Elmwood Park.“I came here from Brazil in 1969and got my citizenship so I couldvote.”

John McCain can thank astrong turnout among older andindependent voters, who holdmostly moderate political views,for his victory.

The U.S. senator from Arizonanarrowly beat former ArkansasGov. Mike Huckabee.

Weather undoubtedly affectedturnout, which was describedmostly as moderate, but snow andice were never factors.

Greenville and Walhalla, inOconee County, got only traces ofsnow, the National Weather Servicesaid, as a troublesome systemremained mostly rain as it passedthrough the state.

Beaten by President Bush in2000 after a notorious dirty trickscampaign, McCain spent much ofthe day watching a potential debaclewith electronic voting machinesin Horry County.

Some 20 of 118 voting machinesthere did not work whenpolls opened Saturday, forcingvoters to resort to paper ballots,and touching off a daylong mediablitz over the problem.

The State Election Commission,which ran this year’s primary,said technicians failed to properlyclear the machines after testingthis week.

Media reports said some voterswere turned away from the polls,and McCain’s camp consideredseeking a court injunction to keepthe polls open two hours longerthan scheduled to give voters moreopportunity to vote.

The campaign later decidedagainst the court action.

Chris Whitmire, spokesman forthe election commission, said novoters should have been turnedaway, because state law providesfor poll managers to help themvote on paper when a problemarises.