[image-1] The polls are open in Charleston until 7 p.m. today for runoff elections citywide for mayor and in City Council District 3. All registered voters in the city are eligible to cast ballots in the mayoral election, and District 3 residents will also see the runoff for their council representative.
Even if you did not vote on Nov. 5, you can vote today. If you’re unsure about your eligibility, check SCVotes.org. Note: You will need to present a photo ID to vote.
For the mayoral election, here’s what you need to know:
Incumbent Mayor John Tecklenburg faces Councilman Mike Seekings. In the first go-round, Tecklenburg earned 47 percent of votes, while Seekings landed in second with about 34 percent.
The candidates: Tecklenburg, a commercial real estate agent, is seeking his first re-election while Seekings, an attorney, is hoping his 10 years on council will serve as a springboard for the top job.
– Read our initial interviews with both candidates (Oct. 16)
– Read our overview of the runoff (Nov. 13)
– Read the City Paper‘s endorsement of John Tecklenburg (Oct. 23) [content-6]
In City Council District 3, incumbent Councilman James Lewis faces challenger Jason Sakran. Lewis also nearly avoided a runoff with 48 percent of general election votes to Sakran’s 40 percent.
The candidates: Lewis, a retired Piggly Wiggly supervisor, is defending his long-held seat while Sakran, a businessman and program coordinator for the school district, is running on a platform of long-term vision for the downtown and West Ashley district.
– Read our initial interviews with both candidates (Oct. 23)
– Read the City Paper‘s endorsement of Jason Sakran (Oct. 30)
Still need a little convincing? Here are a few other reasons why you might want to head to the polls this week:
1. Voter turnout will likely be lower compared to the general election
In 2015’s mayoral runoff between Tecklenburg and S.C. Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, voter turnout dropped by 6.3 percent in the final vote. This year, after a less-competitive general election and without multiple city council runoffs also on ballots to draw people out, that drop-off will likely be more pronounced.
2. As a taxpayer, it costs you money
Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration is once again having to open polling places, pay poll workers, and burn the midnight oil tonight to count ballots. Freedom isn’t free, people.
3. Fun new voting machines
You heard that right. Fun voting machines. Rather than the Nintendo cartridge-like module that helped tally your votes in previous elections, new state-purchased voting machines create a printed paper ballot that election workers use to count your votes. The printout also serves as a physical record of your votes in case the vote tabulation really goes south. [content-1]
4. You’ll be a super voter in the eyes of political campaigns
Nobody will know who you voted for, but the S.C. Election Commission does keep track of which elections registered voters participate in. That info is valuable to political consultants as they consider how to target campaign mail, phone calls, polls, and other outreach in future elections. By showing up to vote today, you’re cementing your status as a dedicated denizen of democracy. Your reward: Full-color mailings and poorly timed phone calls for at least the next four years.
5. Good practice
Since Republicans canceled their 2020 presidential primary out of fear for Mark Sanford’s rogue presidential bid, the next major election for Republican voters will be The Big One on Tues. Nov. 3, 2020. (Democrats will still have the fun chance to choose between approximately 400 people crazy enough to run for president next year.) But maybe today’s elections will be good practice for everyone to, you know, vote for the right person.