Visit SCvotes.org to find your polling location | Photos by Ruta Smith

The midterm election results will be mostly clear when you wake up Wednesday, although some whiny election deniers likely will challenge outcomes in a pitiful display of poor loserism.

There’s a good chance that you’ll be irritated at some results, pleased with others. But there’s one big thing you should be very pleased with — no-excuse early voting. It works in South Carolina. More than 600,000 registered voters went to the polls between Oct. 24 and Nov. 5 to cast ballots, which had the awesome spinoff effect of making election day voting better by cutting lines as well as allowing poll workers to not be crushed by precinct activity.

Unfortunately, the elections of 2022 will be better remembered for something else — the emerging darkness in American politics.  

Politics in America has taken a turn toward darkness in recent years following the 2016 election of Donald Trump. Today, our state and nation are more polarized than ever, fueled by rancor, hate, division, mean-spiritedness and a win-at-all-costs approach that spurns decency.  

You see this darkness in increasingly negative, hostile advertising from both sides that churns on fear. You see it in the foreign bots that play political Pac Man on the internet. You see it in the quality of candidates, many of whom benefit from lopsided gerrymandering that effectively cuts off members of a minority party from participating in one race or another.  

And you see it in election tactics that people should be ashamed of. In one S.C. House race, for example, a Republican campaign for a candidate who may be tied to an ultra-conservative group refused to return phone calls to five different numbers from a City Paper reporter who wanted to do nothing more than his job — asking questions and finding out answers to help voters pick. What cowardice.

The same kind of anti-transparency mindset is obvious in dark money groups that use untold millions of unreported, secret dollars to impact the outcomes of elections. A local example is the white-as-driven-snow-sounding Charleston Coalition for Kids, a dark money group thought to be pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into nine school board races. According to one report, the group spent up to $33,000 on 1.1 million Facebook ad impressions and sent oversized direct mail postcards around the county that likely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

To be clear, these dark money groups are not doing anything illegal. But they’re cynically trying to change election outcomes without telling voters much about who they really are. That needs to change.  

Federal and state lawmakers need to stand up for a change and overturn the reign of dark money in politics by requiring all organizations to report all election donations — just like individuals have to right now. Let’s not allow secret rich folks and corporations take away our democracy.


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Stay cool. Support City Paper.

City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.