CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – One lawmaker from the Lowcountry is hoping for a larger turnout when voters head to the polls for an upcoming runoff race for the South Carolina Senate District 42 Democratic primary.
According to the South Carolina Election Commission, there are 52,721 registered voters in the district; however, only 3,980 ballots were cast in the special election primary race with 7.55% turnout. The district includes portions of Charleston and Dorchester counties.
Three candidates – State Representatives Wendell Gilliard, JA Moore, and Deon Tedder – competed in the special election to fill a seat left vacant by former State Senator Marlon Kimpson, who left office early for a role in President Joe Biden’s administration.
Unofficial Election Results
Charleston County had the highest percentage of voters with 3,919 ballots cast. The lowest turnout was in Dorchester County with only 61 ballots cast on September 5th.
While Rep. Gilliard walked away with a slightly wider lead during the special election primary, none of the candidates reached 50% of the vote, forcing a runoff election between Gilliard and Tedder.
“In the primary election, we saw a voter turnout of just 7.55%,” said Tedder in a news release last week. “That means that only a small fraction of registered voters cast a ballot. This is unacceptable.”
Tedder urged voters to make their voices heard in the runoff election. “Our democracy only works when people participate,” he said. “When we don’t vote, we are essentially giving up our voice in government.”
“This election is about who sets the direction of employment, opportunity, education, and the fate of our neighborhoods,” said State Rep. Wendell Gillard in a Facebook post. “Will it be the outside selfish interests in Columbia or We the People of District 42?”
Rep. Gilliard hosted an election party at the Chill N Grill in North Charleston on the night of the primary and told News 2 that he plans to keep his grassroots approach while vying for votes in the runoff.
“I think that the fact that the people have spoken tonight, once again, I want to reiterate, they’re not going to be bought off. We now control 47% of the total votes and I’m elated about it. My camp is, my team is. So, yeah we are going to drive this message home. We will not be bought by big TV commercials,” Rep. Gilliard said.
Early voting for the primary is set to begin on September 13th and ends on the 15th. The runoff will take place on Tuesday, September 19.
The winner in that runoff will face Republican challenger Rosa Kay during the November 7th election.