Potential low voter turnout in today’s Sumter County primary could end up giving local Republicans and independents, especially those who live in Sumter County’s eastern portion, the rare opportunity to greatly influence the results in the Democratic primary.
Light voter turnout is being reported so far today throughout Sumter County, creating the possibility for a relatively small number of votes to sway local elections.
Sumter County Republicans only have one contested primary to choose from this this year – the U.S. House of Representatives 5th District between incumbent Mick Mulvaney and Ray Craig – and that race is only available to about half of Sumter County voters. Sumter County is almost equally divided between the Fifth and Sixth Congressional Districts, and there is not primary competition for either party in the Sixth this year.
This presents an opportunity for Republicans and independents to cross parties and vote in the Democratic primary, since South Carolina operates its elections with an open primary system, meaning voters are not required to register their partisan preference and can vote in either primary. This is made even easier in South Carolina, which separates its presidential primary from state and local ballots, meaning voters who cast presidential ballots in February in one party can cross over at vote in the other party’s primary today. So even if voters cast ballots in the Republican presidential race, they can still vote in the Democratic primary.
And while some Republicans might have an aversion to voting in the Democratic primary, in two countywide races this could likely be they’re only chance to cast a ballot.
In the Sumter County Clerk of Court race, incumbent Jamie Campbell faces a challenge from Kevin Johnson (not to be confused with the state senator with the same name). In the Sumter County Coroner’s race, two men – Robbie Baker and Isaac Johnson – are looking to unseat incumbent Harvin Bullock. Since none of these Democrats will face a Republican challenger in November, today’s Democratic primary has effectively become the general election for those seats.
Polls in Sumter County remain open until 7 p.m. today.