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Vote tally in District 1 County Council race raises questions

A Column by the Editor
web posted November 7, 2008
COLUMN – Tuesday’s elections were historical with the United States electing its first bi-racial president, Democrat Barack Hussein Obama. But history was not reserved only for the national election; County Council District 1 seems to have made some history of its own by casting almost a third of all ballots cast in the county council races. That is incredible and curious as all county council districts contain approximately the same population, 5,000 people, and the other districts contain 80% of the population.

incumbent Democrat Norman Dorn defeated newcomer Republican Trace Faust by 377 votes with a total 2,613 ballots cast. The results are unofficial until certified. However, with over 2,600 votes cast it shows that over half of the total population in District 1, comprised of men, women and children, showed up at the polls. According to US Census figures, children make up almost 29% of the population in Edgefield County which would mean that roughly 1,450 of the 5,000 people in District 1 are under the age of 18 and ineligible to vote.

Taking that into consideration, the adult population of District 1 would statistically be 3,550 and of those 74% would have had to cast a ballot in order to reach the vote totals reported.

To say that 74% of registered voters in a district turned out to vote is one thing, but to say that 74% of the total population voted is another. Especially when, statistically, 29% of the population is under the age of 18 leaving only 71% of the population eligible to even register to vote.

Add into this equation the fact that anyone convicted of a felony that is serving a prison sentence, been released after serving time but on parole, or has not completed the requirements of their release are also not allowed to vote.  

Another interesting fact is that voter registration lists provided to campaign volunteers resulted in them reporting finding dozens of dead people in each of the precincts of District 1 voters still listed on voter rolls. Reason would tell us they did not cast a ballot.

But there are historical records that also seem to subject the number of ballots cast into question.

District 1 does not show a history of high voter numbers. In the 2000 General Election only 1,111 voted in the county council race. In the 2004 General Election 1,712 turned out to vote. But in 2008 a remarkable 2,615 voters cast a ballot.

Admittedly some would say that new voter registrations might account for the skewed numbers. However, Edgefield County increased its voter rolls by around 1% before the election. That increase would do little to explain the huge increase in voters.

Conversely, County Council District 5 - which historically turns out a larger percentage of registered voters than other districts, and has seen the seat change hands four times in challenges, (Kitchens, Bishop, Hudson, and now Blackwell) - pales to the numbers posted in District 1 with less than 2,000 voters casting a ballot in the county council race this year. In 2004 there were 1,614 votes cast in the county council race and 1,949 voting this year. Not to mention that Merriwether is the most densely populated district in the county and the most active in the political process.

Records show that 11,625 Edgefield County voters turned out to the polls this election, less than half of the 25,000 population. 9,679 voted in all five county council races. The numbers just don’t add up.

In full disclosure, the count of registered voters in District 1 has not been obtained from the Voter Registration Office due to their work continuing to certify the election results. The records used for this opinion column are based on published election results, US Census figures, and other government records.

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