Florence County referendum could cause trouble for voters in 2020

Florence County capital sales tax referendum

FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) - A lengthy capital sales tax referendum may cause some back-ups during Election Day in Florence County.

The last capital project sales tax referendum, also known as the penny sales tax, was voted on in 2013.

However, with the presidential election in 2020, along with several state and local races, election officials believe the addition of the full-length referendum could cause several major problems for voters.

“I want the voting situation to be as smooth and easy for the voters of Florence County and South Carolina as it can possibly be,” Board of Elections Director David Alford said.

A penny sales tax allows counties to collect 1% of sales tax to go toward funding various projects in the community.

The referendum is usually very detailed and several pages long. It also must be voted on before special elections and local offices.

Alford said he expects around 60,000 people to vote in next year’s general election. This could mean extremely long lines at all precincts causing voter fatigue or people not wanting to vote at all.

"People this day and time want to get in and get out. Waiting in line is not a part of our lifestyle,” Alford said.

The board recently sent a letter to the Statehouse in hopes of shortening the question down to a summary to make it easy for voters and election staff.

They also suggest providing residents with multiple opportunities to educate them about the referendum before they head to the polls.

Alford said it’s not just a Florence County problem, but a statewide issue.

“There’s several other counties proposing a penny sales tax referendum and if we could work together it would help the voters of South Carolina, not just Florence County, but it would impact the waiting times and line quite a bit," he said.

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