Board member’s death leaves race open for write-in candidates
By Samantha Lyles
The passing of Darlington County School District Board of Education member Connell Delaine on Oct. 9 was a great loss to the community, and since Delaine was running for re-election to his District 2 board seat at the time of his death, his absence will be felt again by local voters while casting their ballots for the Nov. 3 general election. We asked Hoyt Campbell, director of Darlington County Elections and Registrations, about the protocols involved when ballots include a deceased candidate. “In this situation, any votes that (Delaine) receives will not count because he is no longer with us to serve in that office,” Campbell said. Delaine was being challenged for his seat by Lucas W. Reed of Mechanicsville. Campbell noted that he has already heard about write-in campaigns for the District 2 post. “Whoever is the highest vote-getter, whether it’s the candidate on the ballot or the name that’s written in, will be the winner,” said Campbell. Anyone wishing to utilize the write-in option can do so on Election Day or through absentee and early voting. The procedure involves selecting the write-in option when the District 2 ballot appears onscreen and using the disposable cotton swab to type in the name of your candidate. If you are using a paper ballot mailed to your home, fill in the “Write-In” bubble and enter the candidate name. Campbell advises anyone using this option to double check that the selection bubble is filled in completely, or the scanning computer will be unable to discern your intent. Since any registered South Carolina voter can cast their ballot early this year by citing the COVID-19 State of Emergency, polls in Darlington and Hartsville are seeing record-breaking action. As of Oct. 15, the Elections and Registrations Office had issued 7,498 absentee ballots and received 6,067 returns. “We’re already at the 2016 totals for absentee ballots. (That year), we issued 7,647 ballots and 7,484 were returned before the deadline. We voted about 6,000 in person that year, and we’ve already voted about 4,000 in person,” said Campbell. He estimates that of the 45,000 registered voters in Darlington County, around 35,000 will vote this year, handily besting the previous record of 30,000. Of that 35,000, perhaps 15,000 to 20,000 will vote absentee, either in person or by mail. “It’s going to get busier in the absentee precincts and we will have a ramp up toward Election Day, so I would advise anyone who wants to vote in person to come do it now rather than waiting until the last minute and getting stuck in a long line,” said Campbell. If you wish to vote absentee via an in-person ballot, you must do so between now and 5 p.m., Nov. 2. For those who have scheduling conflicts during the week, a special Saturday voting session is planned for Halloween (Oct. 31) from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Absentee ballot polling locations are open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Darlington County Voter Registration Annex, 135 Cashua Street in Darlington, and at Jerusalem Baptist Church, 301 S. Sixth Street in Hartsville.