Primary election rolls out big issues on 2014 ballot

Horry County, SC (WMBF) - It's hard to get a good voter turnout in the elections where the results don't choose an actual winner. But a political expert says primaries are actually very important because they cause big changes down the road for elections in November.

Even with more than 170,000 total active voters registered in Horry County, there are low expectations for people at the polls Tuesday. Coastal Carolina University Political Science Lecturer Dr. Michael Julius tells WMBF News in a good midterm election there's only a 40 percent voter turnout. If even half of those people show up for a primary, then it's considered a nice showing. During the last primary in 2012, the Horry County turnout was a little more than 14 percent of the active voters.

This year doesn't seem to highlight any particularly competitive big party races, and this should also affect the number of people who feel the need to come out and cast a ballot. But this is a reason to be concerned since this usually leaves the voting duties to only a small group of people.

When that happens, Dr. Julius says the election results fall into the die-hard passionate voters' control, and eventually everyone else has to deal with those results.

"In any number of instances in primaries," explained Dr. Julius. "In the last 6, 8, or 10 years we've seen more moderate candidates who could win, but lose to party extremists and therefore that party loses a seat they would have otherwise taken."

Tuesday's primary election isn't just about the candidate races, but it also focuses on hot button issues. The advisory questions featured on the ballot should be considered the three thousand dollar questions, because each party paid to put the questions on their respective ballots to get your opinion. That's why voters will only be able to vote for the ones that fall within their party lines.

On the Democrat ballot:

  • The first question asks if you believe each state should first, decide for itself whether to allow online gaming, and then-- should each state also be allowed to decide how to regulate it.
  • The next question asks if state gaming laws should be changed to fund the estimated more than 20 million dollars needed to fix roads and bridges... instead of a tax increase.
  • The last question asks if you believe medical marijuana should be used in severe chronic illness cases, and only when prescribed by a physician.

For The republican party, there are two questions on the ballot:

  • Question number one asks if you think the South Carolina constitution should include specific wording to define life beginning with conception, rather than birth.
  • The second question asks if you think lawmakers should try to do away with state income taxes, and proposes that the rate should be reduced every year until it reaches zero.

Julius says these questions can help set a party's agenda for the future.

"Largely they can serve sort of as a marker for the two parties to know what issues they should focus on," said Julius. "Rather than making someone more or less likely to pass something a year or two down the road."

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