Horry County voters face new voter ID law in Tuesday's primary

An important election in Horry County Tuesday could be decided by a small number of voters.

Though it will go a long way toward deciding who will be the county's highest elected official, it's not a general election, there's only one race on the ballot and the weather is expected to be rainy, so a number of things stand in the way of a big turnout.

By late Monday, only about 400 people had cast absentee ballots, compared to the more than 19,000 who voted absentee in last November's general election.

The county's election director expects only about 10 to 15 percent of eligible voters to show up at the polls Tuesday.

"I think there's been a lot of campaigning going on, so hopefully (the candidates) got out and got the people interested and they'll turn out and vote tomorrow," said Sandy Martin.

For the first time, Horry County voters will be faced with the new state voter identification law that went into effect January 1.

Any one of five different types of photo ID will be allowed: an SC driver's license, an SC Department of Motor Vehicles ID card, a military ID, a passport or one of the new SC voter registration cards that includes a photo.

So far, only a handful of people in the county have requested one of the new voter registration IDs.

"I know it's less than 20 and out of those 20, the majority have been people that just wanted them. They had IDs, but they wanted one just in case," Martin said.

Voters will choose from among five candidates: Al Allen, Liz Gilland, Debbie Harwell, Mark Lazarus and Fonzie Lewis.

To decide the winner, election officials will take the total number of votes cast and divide it by two. The result will be what Martin calls the "magic number."

"If somebody gets that number or higher, that's the winner. If not, the two highest vote getters will be in a runoff."

The runoff, if needed, will be March 26. The general election will be April 30, but since there are no Democrats in the running, that election may be little more than a formality.

The winner will fill out the two years remaining in the term of Tom Rice, the former Council Chairman and now Congressman.