The election season returns earlier than expected to Sumter County this year, as local voters in several precincts, especially in western portion of the county, will have not one, but two, open seats seeking new representatives this Spring.
As a result, Sumter County voters could find themselves with far greater influence over these two races than they typically have.
According to the South Carolina Election Commission, both the U.S. House of Representatives District 5 race and the South Carolina state House District 70 race will be appear on the same ballot. Both seats recently became open, albeit for completely different reasons.
The Congressional seat became vacant just moments after former Rep. Mick Mulvaney was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the nation’s director of the Office of Management and Budget. In taking his new position in the Trump administration, Mulvaney was forced to resign from the seat he had held since 2011. Meanwhile, the state House seat occupied by Joe Neal since 1993 became vacant after the legislator’s tragic death earlier this week.
Filing for both races will open with the political parties March 3, and continue until March 13, with the initial primaries being held Tuesday, May 2. Any necessary primary runoffs – which is extremely likely on the Republican side in the Congressional race, since six candidates have already declared they will seek the nomination – will be Tuesday, May 16. The respective nominees will then face off in the final special election June 20.
Because of these dates, any wishing to vote in the primary that has yet to register must do so by April 2.
The Sumter County precincts within the House District 70 borders are: Horatio, Hillcrest, Oakland Plantation 1 & 2, Dalzell 1, McCray’s Mill 1 & 2, Delaine, Manchester Forest, Pinewood and St. Paul. Some of these precincts, however, are split between House seats, meaning only a portion voters within the precinct live within the boundaries.
This link with the South Carolina State House can help local voters find out within which district they live.
Meanwhile, all of the precincts listed above are included in the U.S. District 5 area, as well as the following precincts: Rembert, Dalzell 2, Oswego, Oakland Plantation 2, Mayewood, Turkey Creek, Mulberry, Salterstown, Folsom Park, Green Swamp, Palmetto Park, Burns-Downs, Second Mill, Swan Lake, Hampton Park, Wilder, Pocotaligo 1, Birnie, South Liberty, Millwood, Causeway Branch 1, Sumter High 1 & 2, Sunset, Cherryvale, Manchester Forest, Pocotaligo 2, Privateer, Ebenezer 1, Wilson Hall, Furman, Spectrum, Shaw, Thomas Sumter, Ebenezer 2, Green Swamp 2 and Causeway Branch 2.
Because Sumter County will have two races on the ballot, instead of just one in most of the other locations (part of York County will also have a state House race to decide as well), voter turnout is likely to be higher locally than in most of the other voting areas involving these races.
The largest impact Sumter County could have is in the District 70 race where, for the first time, there could be more Sumter County voters than Richland County voters – the other group represented by the seat – participating in the special election. Approximately 42 percent of all registered voters in House District 70 live in Sumter County, and typically local voter turnout lags behind Richland County participation. During the special election, however, Richland County voters will not have another race to attract them to the polls.
Sumter could see an uptick of influence in the federal race, as well. While significantly lagging behind York County by a nearly three-to-one margin in past races, Sumter County typically has the second or third most votes in the U.S. District 5 race, usually around the same level as Lancaster County.