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The North Strand Recreation Center located on S.C. Highway 57 at Stevens Crossroads had long lines each voting day prior to Election Day on Tuesday, November 3.

Heavy turnout in first major election during COVID-19 pandemic

By Ruben Lowman

Election Day has come and gone once again, and while a nation watches with anxious, attentive eyes as yet another contested presidential election unfolds in this country, voters in Horry County can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the local races are officially over and the winners confirmed with a minimum amount of fuss.

The county’s board of elections officially certified the results last Friday, after having to re-scan roughly 15,000 ballots the day before, amid a heavy turnout for the first major election that has taken place during the coronavirus pandemic. With COVID-19 restrictions preventing or dissuading many people from venturing out over the past six months, election officials anticipated a reduced in-person turnout this year.

Some polling locations throughout the county experienced minor machine malfunctions and lines that were much longer than normal that were to be expected during the first U.S. presidential election taking place after the COVID-19 pandemic has emerged.

Absentee voting has played a much larger role in this election as a result of the social distancing restrictions in place, and nearly 40 percent of the votes cast within the county were submitted absentee. Around 70 percent of all eligible voters in the county cast their ballots this year, or a little under 180,000 people, with the traditional Republican stronghold continuing to throw their support behind Republican politicians in every race.

Tom Rice defeated Melissa Watson as the state’s representative in District 7 and James Edwards defeated Edward Robinson Jr., to take the seat for District 9 on the Horry County Board of Education.

Rice, representing District 7 that stretches from Horry to Georgetown and Marlboro Counties, faced a challenge from Democrat Watson, ultimately walking away with more than two-thirds of the vote, with 223,900 ballots cast in his favor versus Watson’s 137,946.

Rice said his main focus has always been and will continue to be on growing the economy and creating jobs.

“My top three priorities are jobs, jobs, jobs. And I want everybody, regardless the of color of their skin, regardless of their age or their sex or where they live, to have a shot at the American Dream,” Rice said.

Another of his priorities is seeing through the ongoing I-73 project to its completion while he is in office.

“This is the single biggest thing we can do to make people’s lives better in this district,” Rice emphasized. “Not just on the coast, but for all of Horry County, Marion, Dillon, Marlboro, which it runs right through those, but also the surrounding counties.”

James Edwards more than doubled the amount of votes of his opponent, receiving 9,596 to Edward Robinson’s 4,791.

Edwards has lived in the area his entire life and has served the Horry County School system in various capacities over the years, as a parent and volunteer, and has been an active member of the business community as a real estate appraiser and broker. He was formerly President of the Loris Chamber of Commerce.

Our local elected officials in this area on the state level, Senator Greg Hembree of District 28 and Rep. William Bailey of District 104, both ran uncontested during the general election and party primary and will continue to serve as the elected representatives.

About Polly Lowman