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Primary numbers low, but results clear


By Heather Walters


The final numbers are in, showing that a very small number of Colleton County’s registered voters have chosen to keep its local incumbents in their political offices.

Of the county’s 24,926 registered voters, only 3,644 actually voted in the June 10th primary. The Cottageville, Edisto Beach and Walterboro No. 5 precinct had the largest individual turnouts: the smallest turnouts were in Berea (21 of the town’s 100 voters cast ballots) and in Walterboro’s 1-4 precincts, where an average of 150 voters participated from a registered pool of about 2,000 people per precinct.

The numbers also show that more Republicans in Colleton County participated in this primary than Democrats, with Republicans casting a total of 2,591 ballots to the Democrat’s 1,053.

Winning by a landslide was Colleton County Council incumbent Steve Murdaugh, who defeated challenger Gale Doggette by approximately 956 votes. Murdaugh ran on his track record of bringing industrial jobs to the county and on his knowledge as a councilman, while Doggette campaigned to create Colleton as a tourism destination. Following the successful leads of nearby Hilton Head, she also was focused on marketing the county as a senior-living or retiree neighborhood.

Minutes after realizing her defeat, an upbeat Doggette said she does plan to run again for the county office in the future. Her goals remain the same of getting a woman elected to sit on the current all-male county council, and to bring reform to what she calls “a good ole’ boy system” remain the same.

Murdaugh publicly thanked his supporters again at Tuesday’s Colleton County Council meeting. Murdaugh also accepted the congratulatory comments from his fellow councilmen.

Other winners included State Commissioner of Agriculture Incumbent Hugh Weathers defeating his opponent, Joe Farmer, and U.S. Senator Tim Scott easily defeating his opponent, Randall Young. Colleton native Sally Atwater also defeated her primary challengers for the State Superintendent of Education seat.

All party winners will face their challengers the November general election ballot.

The June 10th primary didn’t come without its hang-ups. According to newly-appointed Director of the Colleton County Elections and Voter Registration Office Angela Upchurch, she received about three complaints on the day of election from voters receiving the wrong ballot for the county council election. Those complaints were corrected, she said.

Upchurch says she needs more volunteers to become trained and to work in the county elections office. She also praised her existing staff, saying their efforts are “extraordinary.” Upchurch also credited the one-hour delay in the primary results being made public because the voter commission wanted to first tally the numbers and make sure they were correct. “It’s due diligence,” she said. “You have one chance to get it right, and we will make sure this process is run smoothly.”

Heather Walters (1738 Posts)