Evereything you ever wanted to know about this election
Election officials strongly encourage people to pay attention to the Nov. 6 election ballot, because there is a chance - perhaps now more than ever in previous years - they may inadvertently miss voting for the candidate of their choice.
Petition candidates, particularly S.C. House District 81-hopeful Jane Vaughters, are worried they will be overlooked by straight-party voters.
Petition candidates like Vaughters and Andrew Siders, who is running for County Council District 7, are not delineated by political party on the ballot. So, a straight-party vote will not select any petition candidate in any race.
Write-in candidates are likewise concerned because none of their names - including Sheriff-hopeful Jim Vause, County Auditor hopeful Daniel Turno and the 11 seeking the County Treasurer seat - will appear on the ballot. In the case of the County Treasurer's race, that section on the ballot is completely blank.
To help make sense of the ins and outs of voting in the general election, the Aiken Standard has broken down the process.
"Whatever party they choose, every candidate affiliated with that party will be selected," said Cynthia Holland, executive director of Aiken County Registration and Elections.
Every Democratic candidate will be automatically selected if the voter taps "Democrat" under the "Straight Party" title on the electronic ballot. Every Republican candidate will be automatically selected if the voter taps "Republican," the same for the Libertarian, Working Families, Constitution and Green parties.
In 2008, 52 percent of Aiken County voters pushed a single button for a straight-party ticket, according to the state Election Commission. Of those, 55.9 percent voted Republican and 42.4 voted Democrat.
Nearly half of all South Carolina votes in 2008 were straight-party ticket votes.
Again, straight-party voting does not account for petition candidates or write-ins.
If voting straight party, people must review their ballot before selecting "Confirm" and specifically select a petition candidate or type in a write-in candidate's name.
If people selects the Republican straight-party ticket, but wishes to vote for the Democratic candidate in a specific race, they must review their ballot, deselect the Republican candidate and select the Democratic candidate, Holland said. This is known as cross-over voting.
Voting for petition ?candidates
Vaughters is a petition candidate for S.C. House District 81. Siders is a petition candidate for County Council District 7.
Both were decertified from the June primary by a state Supreme Court ruling, along with hundreds of others across the state, and had to gather the signatures of 5 percent of registered voters in their district to be included on the general election ballot.
Their names are on the ballot but are not affiliated with a political party. Before they were decertified, Siders and Vaughters both filed as Republicans.
Vaughters is running against Aiken City Council incumbent Don Wells for the House seat. Wells is on the ballot as the Republican candidate.
A Republican straight-party vote will automatically select Wells, not Vaughters.
Siders is unopposed.
Voting for write-ins
None of the write-in candidates' names are on the election ballot.
Those who have made their write-in candidacies known to the Aiken Standard are: Jim Vause for County Sheriff; Daniel Turno for County Auditor; David Lobb for S.C. House District 86; and John Cagle, Debra Folk, Jason Goings, Angela Gunter, Faye Hatcher, Melissa Oremus, Francis Pennington, Robin Saylor, Ed Smith, Sonya Spray and Mike Wheelis, each for County Treasurer.
In order to vote for a write-in candidate, a person must tap "write-in." A standard QWERTY keyboard will appear on the screen, and the voter must type in the name of their chosen candidate.
Some voters will almost certainly misspell a write-in candidate's name or substitute initials for the full name. But, Holland said Aiken County Election Commissioners must be able to determine a relationship between the true name of the write-in candidate and what the voter entered electronically.
To ensure they remember every candidate's name and the correct spellings thereof, a person is allowed to have with them a cheat sheet at the ballot box. However, it cannot be campaign literature, according to Holland.
Sample ballots are available for viewing at www.aikencountysc.gov.