South Carolina lawmakers vote to mandate General Elections for single-candidate races starting in 2018

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) – Electing a public official in South Carolina is changing come the start of the new year.

On Tuesday, Gary Bunker was elected as Aiken County Council Chairman with 91 percent of the vote.

Only 2,460 people turned out to the polls Tuesday, but there are 117,094 registered voters in Aiken County.

WJBF NewsChannel 6 uncovered the cost of the special election, with just one candidate on the ballot, is upwards of $40,000 dollars.

Money to open the polls, for the special race, was included in the county fiscal year budget.

Still it took away from repairing voting machines and hiring more temporary workers, because that money had to be used to pay for the special general election.

“That’s probably a waste of taxpayer money with only one person on the ballot,” said Walter Coffey.

Bunker won the primary.

However, to comply with state law the county still had to hold the special general election.

Aiken was reimbursed for the cost of the primary, but paying for the county-wide general election falls on the taxpayers.

“$30,000 to $40,000 dollars, we will not get reimbursed for that.” Aiken County Executive Director of Registration and Elections Cynthia Holland said.

State law says if more than one candidate files for a position, a general election must be held.

In this case Bunker beat the other two Republican candidates, but the law forced the county to open all its polling prescient Tuesday.

Versus had only one candidate filed a general election would not be needed.

However, moving forward that’s going to change.

“Next year, starting January of 2018, it doesn’t matter how many people file for that seat, you will still have to have a general election.” Holland told WJBF NewsChannel 6.

“It cost $40,000 thousand dollars to hold a special election and there was one person on the ballot. Do you think that’s a good use of taxpayer money?” Asked NewsChannel 6’s Stefany Bornman.

“Well no,” said Eric Engstrom.

“Probably not,” said Laurel Engstrom. “It seems like we could maybe come up with a cheaper way to do that.”

Some of the factors included in the election cost are paying poll workers, opening precients, and the cost of travel for moving voting machines.

In Aiken’s chairman race the cost of the election divided by the number of votes, means it cost about $16 dollars per vote.

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