CONWAY, SC -- There are 160,658 active registered voters in Horry County who can take part in Saturday's Republican presidential primary, but officials expect only about one fourth of those to vote. That leaves thousands sitting out, including those who aren't even registered.
There are many reasons people head to the polls, including a need to fulfill a civic duty. For Jennifer Dickinson, it's tradition passed on by her parents. "Every vote counts and every vote really can make a difference, so it's important that they go out there and at least give the best, because if you don't try, you can't succeed."
But everyone doesn't share her beliefs. Coastal Carolina University Political Science professor Dr. Frederick Wood says there are just as many reasons to vote as there are not to, because of the difficulties it can bring. "Part of the reason that voter turnout is decreasing is that we make it harder to vote. We vote in normal elections on a Tuesday. Why Tuesday? Why a workday? Why not on a Saturday? Why does voting have to take place during business hours, why can't it take place over multiple days? Why not through the mail?"
"I don't want to make a decision that I don't know anything about. I feel like it would be irresponsible of me," says Alex Diehl. He's never voted in an election despite having parents who do head to the polls. "I've never really paid attention to politics. I feel like that's just something that's out of my realm to worry about in my point in life."
Before you're quick to judge those like Diehl who don't vote, Dr. Wood says, "In a presidential year, we think it's great if more than 50 percent of the people turn out, but that doesn't mean that the other 50 percent don't care about politics. It just means that they might've lived in a state where it was a red state so why go out and vote? Why waste your time?" He continues, "Just because you don't vote doesn't mean that you don't read the newspaper or that you don't have an opinion."
Dr. Wood says voting is just as much a personal decision as what you're going to watch on television.
As for Diehl, he plans to pay attention to politics in the future. "I will vote eventually once I get into a situation where I know what I'm doing with my life a little better. Once I get a feel for what direction that I'd like to see the community go."
The polls will be open from 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. Saturday.