In 2008 nearly 43 percent of York County voters pushed a single button, voting for all the candidates in their party of choice. That strategy has some petition candidates on the ballot this year encouraging people to vote for the candidates of their choice. About 250 candidates across the state were disqualified from the June primary elections after the S.C. Supreme Court ruled they didn’t file paperwork properly. Among those disqualified were Republican Gary Williams, running for the York County Council District 6; Democrat Roy Blake, running for York County Council District 4; and Republican John Rinehart, running for York County Council District 2. (Joe Thompson, running as a petition candidate against Republican Wes Hayes in S.C. Senate District 15, joined the race after the primary.) Instead Williams, and others, had to get enough voters to sign a petition to put his name on the ballot. Williams is spreading the word while canvassing neighborhoods and has mailed information telling voters how to vote for petition candidates. Those details “will be in anything I mail out or hand out” until the campaign is over, he said.
South Carolina is one of 16 states that allows straight-party-ticket voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Nearly half of all S.C. votes in the 2008 election — which set a record for voter turnout — were straight-party-ticket votes. Of those, 53 percent went to Democrats and 45 percent went to Republicans. “It helps the down-ticket races strongly,” Scott Huffmon, a political science professor at Winthrop University, said, referring to voters who just pull the “R” or “D” lever. “People often know, `I’m going to vote for the Democrat or Republican for (president),’ but they don’t know a lot of the other races and so voting straight ticket means the person doesn’t really have to think about it. The party gets all the votes down the ticket.”