Turnout will be key in strong mayor election - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Turnout will be key in strong mayor election


Turnout will be the key factor in Tuesday night's results of the referendum asking Columbia's voters to approve changing the city's form of government.

But after pounding the pavement and trying to rally voters for weeks, is it paying off at the polls?

Turnout all depended on who you talked to. Howard Jackson, Richland County's election director, didn't think turnout was going to be very good based on the amount of absentee ballots returned, and the election office is now looking into whether there were some delivery problems with those ballots.

At the precincts, in what should have been some of the neighborhoods where they were expected a high number of "Vote Yes" voters, those poll workers indicated turnout wasn't what they expected. 

There were some issues with some of the "Vote Yes" campaign volunteers overstepping their efforts to reach voters as they walked in the polls. At the Greenview precinct, they took extra measures to mark off the 200 foot campaign materials lines.

"We used a yard line, and we just marked off where the 200 feet stop, and they had to put the signs on the other side of the road," said poll worker Samarya Grier.

Still we found some volunteers who wouldn't talk with us inside that line, talking with voters as they entered.

Talking with the "Vote No" campaign, they felt strong about voters turnout out for their side.  They were at 50 polling locations, with other volunteers making phone calls and sending emails in a last ditch effort to get their message out.

There is considerable concern among strong mayor supporters about a variety of factors: weather, apathy, misinformation from the opposition, bad timing for the election, low turnout, absentee ballots running roughly half of what they were during the Nov. 5 general election and even campaign signs being pulled up.

A spokesman for the "Vote No" side said despite being badly outspent, those who oppose the change are feeling optimistic their side will prevail.

We'll know the results of those efforts within the next few hours.

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