The campaign leading up to Tuesday’s primaries across the state was relatively quiet, and the turnout on election day was lousy. Nonetheless, the voters who went to the polls managed to produce some significant results, some predictable and some not.
Only 16 percent of the state’s 2.8 million registered voters went to the polls Tuesday. As a measure of turnout, fewer than 300,000 voters cast ballots in each of the Republican primaries for two incumbent U.S. senators, Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott.
Turnout in Chester County was better at 21 percent. But it was only 9.7 percent in York County.
In York County, the primaries ensured that the county council will have two new members next year. That already was a certainty for the District 5 seat being vacated by longtime council member Curwood Chappell.
Christi Cox handily defeated Marty Taylor in the GOP primary for that race, winning nearly 73 percent of the vote. With no Democrats running, she will assume that seat when Chappell steps down.
But in the GOP primary for the District 3 seat, incumbent Joe Cox was defeated by challenger Robert Winkler, a political newcomer. Winkler won with 51.4 percent of the vote, and will face Democrat Steve Love in the Nov. 4 general election.
But incumbency can have its advantages. In the Chester County Democratic primary, long-time County Supervisor Carlisle Roddey easily fended off two challengers, Wanda Stringfellow and Randy Marsh, winning 57 percent of the votes, enough to avoid a runoff.
Roddey, 76, has served since 2006, but this is his second time around in office. He also had held the office for 24 years from 1974 to 1998.
Roddey has no Republican challengers but at least two candidates are seeking write-in status for the November election.
Incumbent U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham also cruised to victory in the GOP primary, despite earlier speculation that he might fall to a challenge from the right. Graham’s supposed vulnerability as being insufficiently conservative attracted six tea party challengers.
But when it was all over Tuesday, Graham had won 56.4 percent of the vote, plenty to avoid a runoff. The runnerup, state Sen. Lee Bright, took 15.4 percent, and the rest were in single digits.
Graham will face Democratic state Sen. Brad Hutto in November.
In the other GOP Senate primary race, Scott, who was appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley to fill out retiring Sen. Jim DeMint’s term, easily won the nomination. Both he and his Democratic challenger, Richland County Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson, are African-Americans, setting the stage for the state to elect a black person to the U.S. Senate for the first time.
American Party candidate Jill Bossi also will compete for this seat in November.
Critics traditionally lament low-turnout elections. Why don’t voters take advantage of the privilege of living in a democracy and go to the polls? Good question, but one that perennially goes unanswered.
In the recent parliamentary elections in India, where 814.5 million people were eligible to vote, turnout was more than 66 percent.
When only a small percentage of the voters go to the polls, only a few people get to decide who represents the bulk of voters. Well, yeah, they do!
But as Tuesday’s elections demonstrated, the dedicated voters, even if their numbers are small, make decisions that are likely to have a significant impact on how everyone is governed at the local, state and federal levels. Maybe that will motivate more people to go to polls next time.