Early voting begins in Beaufort City Council election

Early voting begins in Beaufort City Council election

BEAUFORT, S.C. (WTOC) - Early in-person absentee voting has started in the city of Beaufort for their City Council election.

The position holds a lot of power but those in charge of elections are worried not many people will show up.

“Well it’s a small election but it’s an important election. Especially for those who live within the city limits,” said Marie Smalls, the Beaufort Board of Voter Registration Director.

Early voting has officially started in the city of Beaufort for the City Council seat left open by the mayor.

“Because I ran for mayor and was fortunately elected, I had to vacate my council seat so that is open for a special election,” said Mayor Stephen Murray.

“So the seat will expire in 2022,” said Smalls.

But taking a look at the Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration, you might not know there’s an election underway. The empty building is a far cry from turnout in a general election. Today, city officials are encouraging people to change the status quo and get out and vote, even in a smaller election.

“If you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to complain,” said Murray.

It’s pretty normal in the city of Beaufort that a special election would have a relatively low turnout. Of their 9,235 voters, the City typically only sees about 7 to 10% turnout for a special election. So far for this election, they’ve only seen nine voters, total. And they are hoping more people will come out and make a difference.

“And I think because this is a special election we expect the turnout will be historically low unfortunately and so I would argue that in this election, one vote will make a significant difference,” said Murray.

Council seats in Beaufort are at-large, meaning whoever is elected represents everyone in the city.

“It’s a really important role that affects people’s lives every day. How your garbage is picked up, or how the right of way or the sidewalk in front of your house might be taken care of, and so it’s important that all five of those seats are completely full and we feel like we have full representation in the City,” said Murray.

Early voting in the city of Beaufort lasts through March 1 and election day is on March 2.

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