By Barney Blakeney
Charleston County Board of Elections and Registration Executive Director Joseph Debney Tuesday announced after a court order, the voter registration deadline for the November 6 general election has been extended to Wednesday, October 17.
The 10-day extension was necessary to protect the voting rights of South Carolina residents due to the widespread impact of Hurricane Florence. Many citizens have been displaced and are struggling to recover, and many county voter registration offices were closed for considerable periods of time. While the deadline was extended due to the impact of Hurricane Florence, the October 17 deadline applies to voters in all counties, election officials said.
In the 2014 and 2016 general elections about 40 percent of voters and about 65 percent of voters respectively, cast ballots. And though voting in primary elections typically is abysmal – some 14 percent of voters participated in the June primary elections – unexpectedly high numbers of Blacks voted in the June 12 Democratic primary elections pushing Black Democrats to victory over their white counterparts.
In the highly contentious races for nominations to the probate court judge and register of deeds positions Black candidates won by small but significant margins. In the probate court judge race Stephanie Ganaway-Pasley beat Kelsey Willey with 52 percent of the vote.
And in the Register of Deeds race Miller beat Patrick Bell with 55 percent of the vote. Early voting/absentee voting played a significant role in the final outcome.
In June S.C. Democratic Party Chair Trav Robertson said absentee voting among Democrats increased astronomically across the state as communities of color responded to the Trump administration’s disrespectful attempt to erase President Barack Obama’s political legacy – a disrespect shown before to no other president, he said. And Black voters are becoming more politically astute. “The bigger question is whether the Democratic Party will work on that shared frustration. That’s the only way to move this momentum forward.” he added.