Voting machines may entrench parties, confuse voters

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September 30, 2010

By Tyler Millhouse

Columbia, South Carolina: Voting machines will pose new challenges in South Carolina's November 2 general elections. Voters will have the option to vote a "straight ticket" for candidates of a single political party. While this may serve to entrench major party candidates in the state legislature, it may also bring confusion to local elections and state ballot issues. Paradoxically, voting a "straight ticket" may cost candidates votes in local elections where party affiliation is not listed on the ballot. Since using the "select all" option to vote for a single party leaves non-partisan races and ballot issues blank, it may inadvertantly reduce voting in these contests.[1]

However, Chris Whitmere, public information officer of the South Carolina Election commission, argued that voters can properly use the system, pointing out that paper ballots have featured the same option in the past. Whitmere contends, "There is a fine line between what we want poll managers talking to voters about how they vote. That could be perceived as a poll manager saying ‘You have to vote on this office.’"[1]

According to Ballotpedia research, South Carolina's 2010 ballot already shows a lack of competition for state legislative offices. In the 124 state house seats up for election, 50 incumbents (44%) faced no primary or general election challenge. Without competition, these incumbents are essentially garanteed re-election. Of these 50 incumbent represenatives, 22 are Democrats and 28 are Republicans. There are no state senate elections in 2010.

Saturday, October 2 is the last day for voter registration.

Heading into the November 2 general election, Republicans are the majority in the South Carolina House of Representatives.


Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 46
     Republican Party 78
Total 124

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