Voting ballots

Horry County election officials on Tuesday announced more precinct changes for the June primaries. 

Last week, the county’s legislative delegation approved moving nearly 30 precincts because of a shortage of polling sites and poll workers. Since that list was distributed to local media, the property owners for two of those sites have said they will not allow their facilities to be used for the June 9 primaries. However, there has also been an increase in the number of poll workers willing to help. 

The result is that nearly two dozen precincts will now be moved, said Sandy Martin, the director of Horry County Voter Registration and Elections.

“Now that we’ve had a little bit of time and things are changing, more people are calling in,” Martin said. “While we had the opportunity, we just went ahead and opened up what we could.”

Wary of COVID-19, some property owners who traditionally allowed their facilities to serve as polling places would not commit to opening for the primaries. Other precincts are being combined because there are fewer poll workers. Many poll workers are over 65 and are refusing to work out of concern for their health. 

Of the county's 124 polling locations, 22 will be moved, Martin said. In most of those cases, she said precincts shifted because not a single person signed up to run a polling site.

Last week, the S.C. State Election Commission announced the primaries would be held as scheduled. Although some state officials had discussed postponing them — elections in March, April and May have already been delayed — the June 9 date isn’t moving. 

Citing concerns about the new coronavirus, commission leaders had asked state officials to make emergency changes to the election process. The election commission does not have the authority to postpone a primary.  

Specifically, the commission asked that the state allow early voting,  “no excuse” absentee voting — meaning voters would not have to fall into one of more than a dozen categories to qualify for voting absentee — and voting by mail.

However, voting options remain unchanged.  

Chris Whitmire, a spokesman for the commission, has said those who qualify to vote absentee (age 65 or older, disabled, caring for a sick or disabled person, etc.) are urged to vote as soon as possible.

Sunday is the last day to register to vote in the June 9 primaries.

Election officials will try to keep voters and poll workers safe. The commission aims to provide masks, face shields and gloves for poll managers.  Hand sanitizer and sneezer guards could also be available.

On Tuesday, Martin said the latest precinct list should be the final version. Despite the struggle to find poll workers, she’s confident in the group she has.

“We’re still way short,” she said. “But we’ve got enough to cover the precincts we’ve got open.”

These are the precincts that will move this year:

• Aynor (Aynor Town Hall) to Dog Bluff (Aynor Elementary School)

• Brownway (Pee Dee Elementary) to Jordanville (Highpoint Baptist Church)

• Cherry Grove #2 (Little River Neck Road Fire Station) to Cherry Grove #1 (Chapel by the Sea Baptist Church)

• Coastal Lane #2 (Mary C. Canty Recreation Center) to Coastal Lane #1 (21st Avenue County Complex)

• Crescent moved to the North Myrtle Beach Fire Station

• Dunes #2 (Lake Arrowhead Fire Station) to Dunes #3 (Risen Christ Lutheran Church)

• Forestbrook (Socastee Library) to Socastee #4 (Forestbrook Elementary)

• Galivants Ferry (Pee Dee Farms Store) to Dog Bluff (Aynor Elementary School)

• Garden City #2 (Garden City Fire Station) to Garden City #1 (Garden City Baptist Church)

• Garden City #4 (Magnolia Grove Clubhouse) to Garden City #3 (Seaside Elementary School)

• Hickory Grove (Kingston Baptist Church) to Kingston Elementary School

• Hickory Hill (Pleasant Meadow Baptist Church) to Live Oak (Live Oak Baptist Church)

• Inland (Bucksport Library/EMS) to Port Harrelson (Bucksport Community Center)

• Joyner Swamp (Berea Baptist Church) to Methodist-Mill Swamp (Midland Elementary School)

• Little River #3 (Little River Fire Station #2) to Little River #2 (St. Paul AME Church)

• Myrtlewood #3 to Myrtle Beach Middle School

• Poplar Hill (Pleasant Union Baptist Church) to Salem Baptist Church

• Red Hill #1 (Waccamaw Elementary School) to Coastal Carolina (Seacoast Church Conway)

• Red Hill #2 (Centenary United Methodist Church) to Jackson Bluff (Sweetwater Branch Church)

• Tilly Swamp (Tilly Swamp Baptist Church) to Dogwood (Chesterfield Baptist Church)

• West Conway (Horry County Justice Center) to East Conway (Conway Library)

• Marlowe #2 (Timberlake Baptist Church) to Glenns Bay (South Strand Recreation Center)

There is also a new voting precinct in the county this year:

• North Conway #1 at the City of Conway Public Safety Complex

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236

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I'm the editor of myhorrynews.com and the Carolina Forest Chronicle, a weekly newspaper in Horry County, South Carolina. I cover county government, the justice system and agriculture. Know of a story that needs to be covered? Call me at 843-488-7236.

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