Credit union, Circle K held up

A man who robbed the Circle K on Montague Avenue in North Charleston on Nov. 2 (left) and a man who robbed a Mount Pleasant bank (above) were captured on surveillance video.

Brad Nettles/Staff

Voting in St. Andrews Precincts 1,2,4 and 5 at St. Andrews Elementary School was steady all day and picked up pace around 5 p.m. as voters stopped by on their way home from work.

 

The polls are closed and the counting has begun at the Charleston County election warehouse.

Among the people milling around the building just after the voting ended at 7 p.m. were North Charleston City Council candidates Bobby Jamesen and Ed Astle. Also there were campaign workers from the staffs of North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey and Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, as well as workers from other campaigns awaiting the latest numbers.

Officials said the absentee votes should be coming up shortly.

Throughout the day, voter turnout was light and there were no significant problems reported as residents of Charleston, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant and several smaller municipalities went to the polls.

As of mid afternoon, balloting was going smoothly, said Joseph Debney, director of the Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration.

"It seems to be going alright," he said. "Just lower turnout."

Residents of Charleston and North Charleston are choosing their mayors and several council members. Voters in Mount Pleasant, Isle of Palms and several other municipalities are electing council members.

Turnout in North Charleston was estimated to be running as low as 14 percent in some areas, to as high as 25 percent in others, according to afternoon estimates.

North Charleston High School reports about 14 percent of eligible voters have turned out, while down the street at Park Circle, about 25 percent of voters have shown up so far.

The higher numbers are probably a product of the more competitive City Council races. One district covering Park Circle, where veteran council member Bob King faces three challengers, is expected to be one of the closer races.

In Charleston this afternoon, about 20 volunteers for Charleston Mayor Joe Riley were making calls inside his Meeting Street headquarters, urging his supporters to get out to vote.

• At the start of the day, voters lined up at the Hazel Parker Playground on East Bay Street before doors opened at 7 a.m. and everyone, it seemed, knew one another.

"Usually this precinct is pretty quiet," said poll worker Ricky Hankel. "I don't think I've ever seen any fisticuffs."

Hankel has been working the polls for almost 40 years.

• Voters trickled in a little slower than usual at Burke High School this morning, according to poll manager Phoebe Fludd. About 50 people turned out in the first hour.

"We're looking forward to a group at noon," Fludd said.

• North Charleston mayoral candidate Chris Collins, doing some last-minute campaigning in front Chicora Elementary School said he's not nervous about the outcome of today's election.

"Whatever's meant to happen will happen. If I win great. If not I'll just get over it and keep on moving forward," Collins said.

• Poll manager Mary Ann Taylor said she had to turn away about a half-dozen voters who showed up at James Island Charter High School to vote as Charleston residents, but they had to annex into the city by Sept. 9 in order to vote there. Taylor said one woman demanded a paper ballot, which Taylor will dispute.

• With students filing into the cafeteria at St. Andrews Elementary School, poll workers could fit only five of their 11 voting machines.

Poll manager Kenneth Dilks said traffic has been a little heavier this election year. He has a two-prong theory: "There are some people running for mayor that some people think could be a threat to Joe Riley, and they reorganized city council districts."

Dilks said, when figuring out whether people are eligible to vote, he asks: "Do you have a blue trash can or a green trash can?"

Green, you get to vote. Blue, you're out if luck this election.

• At the Isle of Palms recreation center reported that 11.4 percent of registered voters had cast votes before 10 a.m.

• Chris Redell, poll manager at West Ashley Middle School, said 180 people have turned out so far from the five precincts voting at his location.

In the East Cooper area, two municipal elections - not featuring mayor's races - drew different levels of interest this morning.

• In Mount Pleasant, where nine candidates were seeking four seats, voter turnout was steady but still relatively small.

John Bigler, poll manager at the National Guard Armory where residents of Remley's Point, Hobcaw Point, Molasses Creek and I'On vote, about 75 people voted by mid-morning. During a general election, Bigler estimated that number would be at near 200. Still, he and poll managers at the Mount Pleasant Municipal Complex and Alhambra Hall all were pleased with the numbers they were getting - knowing that more waves of voters would come in at lunch and after work.

Peter Dodds, a resident of Bayview Acres subdivision, says there was "no big, contentious, across-the-board issues" in Mount Pleasant that would draw heavier turnout, as was the case in the late 1990s when development controversies were heated.

But there seems to be a little more heat on the Isle of Palms as two distinct slate of candidates emerged. Last week, a postcard "paid for by campaigns to elect" Anne M. Bauer, Brian Duffy, Michael G. Loftus and Ralph B. Piening sent a post card highlighting the four candidates. Outside of the Isle of Palms Recreation Center, incumbent candidate Ryan Buckhannon, former councilman Jimmy Ward and new candidate Jimmy Carroll stood together and handed out a card highlighting their names.

Carroll says he was a subject of a smear campaign when a letter detailing his divorce, including a domestic violence incident, arrived in voter mailboxes over the weekend.

"It had all of my personal divorce stuff in it, saying what kind of bad person I am. It was as gutter politics as it gets," says Carroll, noting that the letter was sent from people claiming to be former neighbors on Sullivan's Island from a non-existant address on the island.Sullivan's Island. But the letter came on the heels of his ex-wife writing a letter to the editor in an island on-line site supporting him. Ultimately, Carroll says the attempt to smear him seems to have backfired based on the responses of support he has received from islanders.

Interest in Isle of Palms election, which may also be fueled in part by a current issue on how to handle island parking, seemed high. As of 10 a.m., 11.4 percent of voters at the two precincts at the center had cast votes and there was a steady stream of people, largely senior citizens, filing in to vote.

Poll manager Mike Blalock said, "There were 30 people in line when we opened at 7 this morning and we haven't had more than two or three minutes go by without somebody coming in to vote."

Blalock and others expected the largest wave of people to come in after school and work.

The spotlight in this election is on the contest for mayor of Charleston, which is the area's most contentious and expensive race.

Incumbent Joe Riley, seeking a 10th term, faces challenges from City Councilman William Dudley Gregorie, author David Farrow, teacher Craig Jelks, and restaurant manager Joshua Kennedy.

In North Charleston, Mayor Keith Summey faces a challenge from Charleston County School Board member Chris Collins.

You can find the list of candidates in contested races and info about them, as well as your polling place and information on the voting process, at postandcourier.com.

For now, here are five quick things to know as you go to the polls.

Who can vote and where?

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today in Charleston, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant and several other Lowcountry municipalities.

Should I vote early or late?

Today's forecast calls for sunny skies, no rain and a high around 73 degrees, National Weather Service meteorologist Julie Packett said. Turnout in municipal elections often is lighter than during general elections.

What should I bring?

Voters must have either a signed voter-registration card, a South Carolina driver's license or a photo ID issued by the state Department of Motor Vehicles. (The state's new Voter ID law won't be in effect today).

How can I follow what's going on?

Election Day updates and other information, including candidate profiles and links to county election commissions, can be found at postandcourier.com.

What are the big stories?

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley is seeking a 10th term but must beat back challenges from City Councilman William Dudley Gregorie, author David Farrow, schoolteacher Craig Jelks and restaurant manager Joshua R. Kennedy. A runoff is possible. North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey faces a challenge from Charleston County School Board member Chris Collins.