Darlington County Election 2015: What is a run off?
By Jana E. Pye, Editor, email@example.com
Winners of nonpartisan elections are determined by one of three methods; plurality, majority and runoff. Plurality is when more than one candidate runs for office, the candidate receiving the highest number of votes is elected.
For those of us who haven’t been in a high school civics class in many moons, the News and Press asked Darlington County Voter Registration director Hoyt Campbell: what is a run off?
If candidates for two or more offices are to be elected and some or all candidates do not receive a majority of the votes cast in the first election, a second election is conducted two weeks later between one more than the number of candidates necessary to fill the vacant offices. The candidates receiving the highest number of votes cast in the runoff election equal to the number of offices to be filled are elected.
Write-ins are not allowed in these runoff elections.
What does that mean for the City of Darlington, with twelve people running for three seats on City Council, and four people running for Mayor (two of the candidates are currently on city council)?
“The probability for a run off is high,” said Campbell.
“With the mayor, one would have to get 50% plus one vote,” he continued. “For example, if we had 1800 votes cast, the winner would need to get 901 to avoid a run off.”
“In the council election, you take the total votes cast; if there are 4500 votes cast for council, they can vote for up to three –not exceeding three – take 4500 votes and divide by number of seats (which would be three); then divide that by two and add one. So, if we had three candidates receive more than 751 votes, we would not have a run off.
If we had one candidate get more than 750 votes, then it would be the number of seats left – then divide by remaining seats – therefore, three candidates would run for two seats.”
Campbell said that voters may write in candidates for the first ballot, but may not for the run off election.
“Say Candidate A had 780 votes; he or he would be elected. Candidate B has 740, and Candidate C 738, Candidate D got 690. We have two seats to be run off. Then the three candidates would have a runoff.”
According to Campbell, in previous elections with three seats available, typically the first two seats are elected, and the last seat would be declared in a runoff.
Years ago, the Town of Society Hill had an election for a runoff for one seat, but there were three candidates – two were a tie. “That was rare,” said Campbell. “But, it could happen.”
In all his years of working with elections, he has never seen this many candidates for a city council vote. “We’ve never had this many. In the late 1990’s, we had eight people run for council here in Darlington,” said Campbell. “This one is unusual, having a dozen.”
The last day to register to vote is October 3rd.
Registration may do it in the office on Cashua Street in Darlington; visit the website www.darcosc.com/government/elections_and_registration; the state election website: www.scvotes.org. The online application may be downloaded and mailed in, or completed and submitted directly online – but only if the registrant has a valid South Carolina driver’s license; the signature used at DMV is used for the official signature.
Elections in Darlington County:
No election this year; the town had two council seats to fill, but the incumbents filed for both seats; Deborah Harrell, and Michelle Steen.
Johnny Andrews is running unopposed so he will not be on the ballot. In City Council District 2, incumbent Bernice Wilson is facing opposition from Christopher Shirley. In City District 6, Billy Shirley (incumbent) is facing opposition from Casey Copeland.
Two Town Council at Large seats are available; voters may vote for two from the following list: Mike Lloyd (incumbent), Kevin J. Hunt, Michael Parnell, or Angele White-Bradley.
Mayor: James “Jimmy” Cooper (council member), Gloria Cheeseboro Hines (council member), William M. Jackson, and Jim Stone
Council- three At Large seats available:
Joan Alston, Sheila Baccus, Ronda Duke Brown, Carolyn Bruce, Linwood Epps, Bryant Gardner, John M. Milling, Ouida K. Page, Diane Sigmon, Joyce Wingate Thomas, John A. Wallace, and Beatrice Wilson.