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Charleston County voting under way
Ballot misprint, machine quirk get attention
Friday, November 03, 2006

The start of absentee voting in Charleston County hasn't been without a few hiccups, but election officials remain confident things will turn out all right.

First, a misprint on about 5,000 absentee ballots asked voters if they support approving up to $250 million in county bonds for new highway work. The amount was supposed to be $205 million. Second, some question how voters review their choices in races where they can vote for more than one candidate.

As far as the bond misprint, County Board of Elections and Voter Registration director Marilyn Bowers said, "It was just a transposed number, and the ballots have been corrected."

County Council Chairman Leon Stavrinakis noted the error absolutely won't change the county's plans to borrow no more than $205 million, which is set by ordinance. "You can only borrow what you can pay back," he said. If approved, the bonds would be paid off by the county's existing half-percent sales tax.

Had the mistaken amount been less than $205 million, Stavrinakis said, "that would certainly be more of a concern to me."

The county's half-cent sales tax has been subject to several electoral challenges in recent years, and this typo could open the door for yet another, especially if the vote is close. But Stavrinakis said, "I am hopeful it's going to do very well."

Meanwhile, some are questioning if the county should do more to teach voters how to review their ions in races where they can vote multiple times. If voters can vote for only one candidate, the review screen shows who they voted for, but if they can vote for two or more candidates, as is the case in a Charleston County School Board race and the Charleston County Soil and Water Commission race, then the review screen indicates only whether they have voted for the maximum number allowed. It does not state for whom they voted.

Bowers said voters can review their ions in those races by touching the office and returning to that page.

But school board candidate Arthur Ravenel Jr., who faces Robin Beard, Gregg Meyers and Susan Simons in a contest for two East Cooper seats, said he heard from a voter who was concerned that she could not review their names like she could with the others.

"They should have announced this and made it perfectly clear," Ravenel said. "It disturbs me, and I know it disturbs delegation members."

Bowers said the state is seeking a way to change the voting machines' review screens for such races, but it won't be able to be done in time for this election because of the federal reviews involved.

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