It’s hard for leaders on both sides of the Indian Land incorporation debate to imagine residents still waffling on the issue.
But they aren’t sitting back waiting for election day, either.
“Undecided? No,” said Beverly Williams, organizer with Citizens Against the Incorporation of Indian Land. “It seems like people pretty much have their minds made up. We’ve met a lot of people coming out picking up signs, coming by saying they support us. I haven’t really heard from anybody that’s undecided.”
Matt McCusker, part of the pro-incorporation Voters for a Town of Indian Land, said his group hears questions from undecided voters.
“We often get undecided people reaching out in person and online,” McCusker said. “Unfortunately, there has been so much bullying on social media by the anti-town side, that we regularly have people say they were scared to ask questions. It’s become a real problem.”
The decision on whether to become a town has been contentious with both sides accusing the other of unwillingness to debate the issues, misinformation, moving or removing campaign signs and even bullying on social social media.
Williams said her group is concerned about misinformation online, and residents still unaware .
“We have heard of people who don’t even know that this vote is going on,” she said.
Also, because elections run through Lancaster County but only the panhandle is deciding on incorporation, and because Van Wyck was removed from the plan after residents there incorporated, Williams said her group is concerned about misinformation muddying up who can vote.
“Now we’re worried about people not knowing whether they can vote,” she said.
Both groups are sending out fliers and direct messages, and organizing public meetings, typically only one side presenting information.
Facts on the vote
Mary Ann Hudson, director of voter registration and elections office in Lancaster County, said the pro- and anti-town groups aren’t the only ones hearing bad information. Her office gets plenty of it.
“We’re getting a lot of phone calls,” Hudson said. “If anybody has any questions at all, they can call our office.”
Polls will be open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. March 27 at the usual precincts. Voters must show an accepted photo ID, for example driver’s license, passport or federal military ID.
“All precincts will be open, where people normally vote and when they normal vote,” Hudson said.
In 2010, there were 17,742 residents within the 29707 zip code, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That area includes much of the Lancaster County panhandle, from Mecklenburg County line past Sun City and Jim Wilson Road. Most, but not all, of the area is included in the incorporation decision.
As of 2016, the census bureau estimated there were 24,200 residents, an increase of 36 percent in six years. Almost 78 percent of those residents of voting age, and almost 29 percent of them age 62 or older.
Part of the incorporation area also lies in the 29720 zip code, which includes Van Wyck and Lancaster. It runs about halfway from Lancaster to Pageland or Kershaw.
Another question Hudson hears is how many votes need to be cast per ballot. The decision on whether to incorporate also includes questions about the new town setup, if incorporation wins the vote.
“It’s their choice whether to fill out the full ballot, just like with any election” she said. “It won’t impact the vote on incorporation.”
Where the vote gets tricky is in Van Wyck. There is an official map showing what area can vote, but after Van Wyck incorporated, the new town began annexing property. Anyone within Van Wyck town limits can not vote on the Indian Land issue. Anyone outside those limits can.
“There’s going to be a lot of people in the Van Wyck precinct who aren’t in the Van Wyck limits, and they’re still going to be eligible to vote in this election,” Hudson said.
The current map still could change because of Van Wyck.
“Van Wyck is still annexing, and they will be annexing those properties up until the vote,” Hudson said. “And if folks are inside the limits of Van Wyck, they can’t vote.”
Voters can visit scvotes.org for more information on where they vote.
Both sides of the incorporation issue are making last-minute appeals to voters.
“I would ask them if they wanted to pay more taxes and have an extra layer of government on top of what they already have,” Williams said. “Most people would vote no for that reason right there. And then I would ask them why they think a vote for a town would help them.”
McCusker would, of course, approach the opportunity in a different way.
“If I could only make one point, I would say this is your one shot at local control,” he said. “If we don’t create our own town now, a Lancaster County Council majority who doesn’t live here and who we can’t vote on will be controlling our fate for the next 15 years. If you think the last 10 years of unrestricted growth have been bad, just wait until a town of Indian Land is no longer a threat the county has to worry about. It will be a free-for-all for developers, big land owners and the politicians who they support.”