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Election 2016: Voter ID law didn’t stop ‘dead’ man from casting ballot

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

It’s been a grueling presidential campaign season, but George Greggs didn’t think it would kill him.

The report of his demise, though greatly exaggerated, reached him when he walked into the polling place at the Waccamaw Regional Recreation Center in Parkersville for Saturday’s Democratic primary. He had his voter registration card, but the current one and a dog-eared version issued when the polling place for the Pawleys Island 2 precinct was at the old Waccamaw Library. He had his driver’s license as required by the state’s voter ID law.

“They ran my number three times and it kept coming back that I was dead,” Greggs said.

Greggs will turn 67 on Sunday. He registered to vote when he turned 18 in 1970. Except for a stint working on nuclear submarines for the Navy in Groton, Conn., he has lived all of his life in Georgetown County. He worked as a paramedic for the county so he was pretty sure his vital signs were still good.

“The coroner didn’t pronounce me, the doctor didn’t pronounce me and I’m still paying life insurance,” Greggs said.

The symptoms were familiar to Rita Smith, the poll manager at Pawleys 2. “We quickly revived him,” she said. “We’ve had that before.”

It was the clerk of court’s office that listed him as dead, Greggs discovered. He was told a jury summons sent to him was returned to the clerk’s office. He thought that was strange because he had recently seen Clerk of Court Alma White at church.

“We wouldn’t take somebody off the list because their mail is returned,” White said. The next step is to send a deputy. She is looking into the matter.

Smith called the county Elections and Voter Registration office to get Greggs back on the list so he could vote. “He’s alive and sitting right in front of me,” she told registration officials. Just to make sure, she had him fill out some paperwork.

The error only affected the voting rolls. “I’m still getting my Social Security check, thank goodness,” Greggs said.

In Clinton’s S.C. landslide, some Waccamaw voters feel the Bern

Democrats on the Waccamaw Neck felt the Bern in Saturday’s presidential primary more than voters around the county and the state, but they still gave Hillary Clinton an overwhelming victory.

The former secretary of state took 74 percent of the vote in the state and 77 percent in Georgetown County. On the Waccamaw Neck, her share of the vote over Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont was about 66 percent. Voters said they believe Clinton has the best chance of being elected in November.

“She’s the only one who can win,” said Jim Brady, who voted at Pawleys Island 2. He said he would have voted for Sanders, but didn’t think voters nationally are ready for a socialist.

A 20-something voter who did pick Sanders said he would support Clinton if she gets the nomination, but he added that if Jeb Bush had won the GOP nomination, he would have faced a tough choice.

Janice Whalen, who voted at Pawleys Island 5, didn’t have a hard choice. “I can’t stand Hillary Clinton,” she said.

She disputed the idea that women should support a female candidate. “I would love to have a female president,” Whalen said, but she thinks it’s important to vote for the best candidate. “The person who stands up for what you believe in,” she explained.

A couple who voted at Pawleys 5, but didn’t want to give their names (“I don’t want my neighbors knowing my business,” the wife explained) said they voted for Clinton because of her experience. “I don’t see anyone else with her experience” in either party, the husband said.

He agreed with the idea that voters are looking for change, but he thinks that’s only realistic with a candidate who can work within the system.

But the wife said she understands those who have a different view. “My dad is a huge Trump supporter,” she said, referring to Donald Trump, the GOP front-runner.

At Pawleys 2, Virginia Parker-Verner said she voted for Clinton because “of what she’s done for the community in general and for women. She focuses on the whole community.”

Eighty-eight percent of voters in Georgetown’s Dreamkeepers precinct went for Clinton over Sanders on Saturday. Dedric Bonds, chairman of the Georgetown County Democratic Party, said Clinton was more popular with Palmetto State black women than Barack Obama in 2008. He said 94 percent of the state’s black women voted for Clinton this time.

“Women are the backbone of the family,” he said, “and also the political system. Once Secretary Clinton earned the support of black women she got the men too.”

Clinton maintained her connections in South Carolina after losing to Obama, Bonds said. “She built on them,” he added. “Sanders struggled coming south. His field workers were unfamiliar with the terrain. Clinton’s had a grasp and knowledge of the area and the people. You’ve got to have that before you ask for folks to vote for you.”

Bonds said the presidential primaries in both parties are unprecedented. “We’ve become desensitized,” he said. “The shock factor takes more and more to have any effect. When would a Democratic candidate for president under FBI investigation be the front-runner?”

Trump is even more unlikely, Bonds said. “My theory is that Trump wanted to run to get some notoriety and found himself on the fastest horse almost by accident. Unless the Republicans do something at their convention, he looks like the nominee. This election could change politics for a long time.”

Turnout in the state on Saturday was half what it had been for the Republican presidential primary the week before, 12.5 percent. On Waccamaw Neck, the drop was even steeper, down 77 percent. Complaints about long lines at some Pawleys Island area precincts during the GOP primary were only echoes in empty halls during the Democratic primary.

But there were other complaints. At Pawleys Island 5, which votes in the Waccamaw High gym, one voter was upset that the signs on Kings River Road didn’t make it clear that the polling place had moved from the cafeteria. He waited in front of the school.

The heaviest turnout for the Democratic primary was at Pawleys 2, which votes in the recreation center in Parkersville. The longest wait was about 10 minutes, poll workers said. The precinct is also the largest in the county with over 3,000 voters. Turnout was 23.4 percent for the GOP primary and 11.5 percent for the Democratic primary.

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