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Absentee Ballots Under Scrutiny In Rural South Carolina County

Originally published by Will Folks for Fits News

Elevated absentee ballot totals in at least one rural South Carolina have sparked formal protests and allegations of tampering – as well as questions about the results of prior elections. As of this writing, though, no formal request for an investigation has been made as election protests must first be filed with the appropriate county political party.

Rural Marion County – located in the impoverished Pee Dee region of the Palmetto State – is home to approximately 28,500 people. Last Tuesday, an impressive 5,952 of its 19,671 registered voters (or 30.26 percent of the electorate) cast ballots in the state’s partisan primary elections.

I say “impressive” because those of you tracking the anemic participation in the 2024 primary election cycle know that’s more than twice the statewide turnout – which clocked in at 13.59 percent.

What’s curious about these numbers, though, is not just how many of them there were – but the elevated number of absentee ballots cast by mail.

Last week, Marion voters narrowly reelected their incumbent coroner, Jerry M. Richardson. I say “reelected” because Marion County is a Democratic stronghold – and county-wide races like coroner are settled in the party’s primary, not the general election (which saw Richardson run unopposed in 2020).

No Republicans filed for the seat this year, either – meaning the winner of the Democratic nomination is the winner of the election.

This year’s Democratic primary was close, though. Richardson received a total of 3,103 votes last Tuesday, giving him 52.58 percent of all ballots cast. His challenger, Kendra Fling, received 2,799 votes (or 47.42 percent of all ballots cast).

Had the race been confined to early voting and election day results, Fling would have carried the day by a little more than 140 votes. It wasn’t, though. Of the 5,902 Democrats who voted in this election, 1,065 of them (or 18 percent) voted absentee by mail.

Is that high? Yes.

Consider the GOP primary election for coroner in Greenville County, which is home to 335,274 registered voters (or more than seventeen times as many registered voters as Marion County). In that contest, 49,237 votes were cast – represented 17.4 percent of all registered voters.

How many ballots were cast absentee by mail in that race? Only 1,023 – or 2.07 percent.

See the difference?

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