Lowcountry election officials tried to change as few polling places as possible for Saturday’s GOP presidential primary, but sometimes stuff happens, such as Joseph Floyd Manor catching on fire.
So voters in the Charleston 19 and 20 precincts who normally vote at that high-rise housing complex in the Neck Area will now vote at the Charleston Charter School of Math and Science farther down King Street.
State law allows counties to consolidate polling places in this election to save money. Neither Berkeley, Charleston nor Dorchester counties plan to do so. But all three have moved a handful of polling places because of different issues at the regular locations.
For instance, Mount Pleasant voters who normally vote at Alhambra Hall will vote Saturday at Moultrie Middle School. Alhambra Hall is booked for a wedding that day.
Joe Debney, director of the county’s Board of Elections and Voter Registration, said the county is using most of its usual polling sites.
“We wanted to create the least amount of confusion as we could on our end,” he said. “Anytime we move polling locations, we’re going to upset some people.”
Berkeley and Dorchester counties took similar approaches, declining to consolidate polling places for this month’s primaries.
Debney noted that Charleston County’s 182 precincts already are consolidated at only 103 locations.
Adam Hammond, Berkeley County’s elections director, said only two polling places needed to be moved Saturday — St. Stephen 2 and Alvin — because the initial site was unavailable. Ten others were moved last year as the county split up its largest precincts. Voters there have received new voter registration cards with the new polling place.
In Dorchester County, officials also tried to use as many of the regular polling places as possible, but several were moved for this month’s primaries, said Dorchester Elections Director Josh Dickard. “Saturdays are tough, particularly for churches,” he added.
Across the state, only about a dozen of the state’s 46 counties did some form of polling place consolidation, according to the State Election Commission. S.C. GOP Chairman Matt Moore said it was not a great concern.
“We want to save as much taxpayer money as possible but also give voters access to precincts,” he said.
Reach Robert Behre at 843-937-5771 or at twitter.com/RobertFBehre.