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Election 2012: Polls open Saturday for GOP presidential primary

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

All Georgetown County polling locations will be open for Saturday’s Republican presidential primary, but the Waccamaw Library won’t be among them.

The polling place for the Pawleys Island 2 precinct has been changed from the library to All Saints Church on Kings River Road.

“We had just really outgrown the library,” said Donna Mahn, county director of elections and voters registration. “We’re hoping that by having a larger area, it’s going to make things a lot better and a lot easier.”

All Saints has space to allow voters to line up inside, out of the weather while they wait, and its parking lot can accommodate more vehicles.

The presidential primary is expected to attract a relatively low turnout, according to Mahn. Just over 6,000 of the county’s 41,000 registered voters cast ballots in 2008. But for elections with high voter turnout, such as the 2008 general election, the line outside the library has been known to stretch around the building and into the road, leaving people standing outside regardless of weather conditions, sometimes for hours.

The new location should put an end to that.

Weather conditions during the last GOP presidential primary likely contributed to the low voter turnout. It was cold and rainy all day. But even if conditions are better this year, Mahn said she’s not expecting a significant improvement in turnout.

“The turnout just seems to be lower for Saturday elections than Tuesday elections, but it’s the parties that pick their dates,” Mahn said.

The Georgetown County Election Commission considered combining some precincts because of expected low voter turnout, but recently decided against it.

“We’ve heard a lot of complaints from other counties that it just confuses voters,” Mahn said. As a result, most counties are opting not to combine precincts, she said.

One precinct only had one vote cast in the last GOP primary, while another had six.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Though it’s a Republican primary, all voters who were registered by Dec. 21, 2011, are eligible to vote, regardless of which party’s primary they choose to vote in when June rolls around.

However, Susan Smith, state executive committeewoman for the Georgetown County Democratic Party, warns that voters interested in being delegates at this year’s Democratic National Convention won’t be eligible if they vote in the Republican primary.

Arriving at the polls, Mahn said voters will need to show their voter registration card, a driver’s license or a state-issued ID card.

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