COLUMBIA — Here’s a look at five things voters should know for the Nov. 4 election:
It’s not deja vu
The ballot for governor looks a lot like four years ago. The race is largely a rematch between Republican Gov. Nikki Haley and Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, who lost in 2010 by 4.5 percentage points.
The two new names for 2014 are Tom Ervin, who calls himself an “independent Republican,” and Libertarian Steve French.
In 2010, half of voters cast a straight-party ticket, so any third-party candidate is a very long shot. But Ervin is spending millions of his own money on ads running statewide. State election officials have certified that Haley’s former primary foe collected more than enough signatures to be on the ballot as a petition candidate.
Also on the ballot again is third-party candidate Morgan Reeves.
Two Senate races, different terms
Both U.S. Senate seats are on the ballot in South Carolina, though for different term lengths.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham is seeking a third, six-year term, after handily defeating six tea party challengers in the GOP primary.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott is seeking to add two years to his tenure, as the election fulfills what’s left of Jim DeMint’s term. DeMint left the Senate in January 2013 to take the helm of the Heritage Foundation. Scott had just won a second U.S House term when Gov. Nikki Haley appointed him to DeMint’s seat.
If Scott is elected in November, as expected, he could seek his first full Senate term in 2016. The election marks South Carolina’s first-ever U.S. Senate contest between two black major-party candidates.
Two incumbent statewide officers and one congressman essentially have already won. That’s because Treasurer Curtis Loftis, Adjutant Gen. Robert Livingston and U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford – all Republicans – have no competition on the November ballot. Loftis and Livingston each defeated one primary challenger. No one challenged former Gov. Sanford one year after he won a special election to fulfill Scott’s term.
No Democrat is challenging Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers or U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy. Both, however, have third-party opponents. Like Sanford, Gowdy had no primary contest, either.
South Carolina’s five other congressmen are expected to easily win re-election against major-party opponents with little to no cash.
Should we change the constitution?
The ballot includes two constitutional questions.
The first asks voters whether charity raffles should be legal. While raffles are commonplace, the only legal raffle is the state lottery. Enforcement depends largely on whether someone complains to police.
If voters say “yes,” a law passed last year lays out how schools, churches and other nonprofits can legally hold raffles. Rules include limits on their frequency and ticket costs.
The other ballot question asks whether South Carolina’s top military officer should be appointed by the governor.
If voters approve, 2014 will be the last time voters choose who leads the state’s military. South Carolina is the only state where voters elect the adjutant general, and nothing requires candidates to have military experience. The office oversees the state’s Army National Guard, Air National Guard, State Guard and the state’s Emergency Management Division.
What do voters need to bring?
This will be the first general election for South Carolina’s voter ID law.
For the quickest path to the ballot on Election Day, present either a driver’s license, Department of Motor Vehicles ID card, federal military ID, U.S. passport, or voter registration card with a photo – a new ID created by the 2012 law that’s available for free at county election offices.
While voters will be asked to show photo identification at the polls, they can still vote without one by signing an affidavit stating why they could not get a photo ID and showing their non-photo voter registration card.
Voters who forget to bring their photo ID can also vote on paper. It won’t count, however, unless they show the ID at their county election office before officials certify results.
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