Update on Oct 24th:

Early voting is open.
We’ve added more links to start with as you do your research in the “What you need to know” section.
There are still several debates coming up.

Why voting is important, especially in local elections

Voting is one of the most important things you can do as a citizen. It’s your chance to have a say in who represents you and makes decisions on your behalf. It’s also an opportunity to hold elected officials accountable for their actions.

American Flag in Lexington, SC Square Park

When you vote, you make a difference!

Our local elections in the Lexington, SC area are often decided by small margins due to low-voter turnout. Unfortunately, many people have the mistaken idea that there is no point in voting. They see the volume of social media posts and assume the elections are a lock based on the context of the loudest or most frequent opinions expressed, whether the posts favor the candidate(s) they agree with or the ones they don’t. This is simply not the case. There are MANY people with differing opinions that chose to not speak out in different ways. So don’t assume what you see and hear represents the majority of voters.

Lexington One School Board 2020 election results

To use Lexington One School Board as an example (since it’s a hot topic this year), according to results listed on scvotes.org, 175,745 votes were cast in 2020 to fill 4 seats. Kathy Henson and Anne Marie Green were the clear leaders, each with over 14%. Brent Powers came in at 11%.

Mike Anderson won over Chris Rice BY ONLY 16 VOTES.

Local elections are especially important because these are the leaders who make decisions that affect your everyday life and the community in which you live and work. They’re responsible for everything from approving building projects to setting budgets for schools and police departments. Local elections are like the roots of a tree. They may not be as visible or flashy as the leaves or branches, but they are essential for the health and growth of the tree.

If you want your voice to be heard and have a say in what happens in your community, it starts with being an informed voter and casting your ballot.

Large Clock in Lexington, SC Square Park

What you need to know: Research the roles, candidates, and local issues on the ballot

Local elections are often overlooked in favor of national elections, but they can have a big impact on your everyday life. The officials you elect at the local level make decisions about things like schools, roads, and public safety. They also set property taxes, which have a direct impact on your wallet. It’s important to research the roles, candidates, and local issues on the ballot before heading to the polls.

Know the Role

Who does what for where? Who CAN do what and when?

Knowing the roles, responsibilities, and actual powers of different positions helps you make an informed decision in choosing candidates.

  • Do they have the experience and knowledge to fulfill that role?
  • Do they seem to understand how to best carry out the requirements for that position based on their statements?
  • When discussing why they believe they are best for the job, do they talk about changes they would like to make that are actually within the power and scope of that position to make?

Again, we’ll use the local school board as our example. One excellent resource is the South Carolina School Boards Association and their SCSBA’s guide to school board member roles and responsibilities. You can download it at https://scsba.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/2018-rolesrespon.pdf

One giant thing I see missing in our current race is any focus on

  • talking to parents, teachers, and stakeholders around the district,
  • listening to their concerns, experiences, values, and priorities,
  • asking questions to understand how the community feels
  • and what’s actually important to them.

That’s a big problem because that’s literally the role they are campaigning for.

“I’ve talked to many parents who …” *insert giant eye-roll here*

The wide majority of candidates seem to be approaching their campaign from their personal viewpoints and those of like mind in their bubbles. They respond to comments and questions with defenses of their views or arguments of why the person is wrong. That’s not their job. They aren’t elected to simply represent those who agree with them. They have to get out into the community, have an open mind, listen to opposing views, listen for understanding, and to learn new ideas and visions. Not everyone will have the same views, but how can you say you are making decisions with the best interest of the children and parents in mind when you don’t even really know what parents outside of your bubble think or feel or are dealing with?

Another example is the constant talk about curriculum and DHEC. I swear it feels like that is all that’s being talked about. Well, that’s a problem.

Standards are set at the state level. Curriculum choices begin at the state level. The chain of command for many decisions is set at the state level. A school board member can’t just decide to change state standards. That also brings up an example of why the election for State Superintendent is another important decision this year. But I’ll stick to one soapbox at a time.

What I haven’t heard or heard much about is addressing issues and concerns of parents dealing with special services.

What I haven’t heard or heard much about is addressing the teacher and bus driver shortages.

What I haven’t heard or heard much about is the issues and concerns of parents and teachers at schools like Pelion, where there is quite a disparity of services.

And those are all things the school board can actually address.

Woman writing in notebook

Know the Candidates

Get to know your candidates. This is an excellent time to embrace ‘person over party’. Dig into the ones you are leaning towards and really dig into the ones you don’t think you’re a fan of. You may be surprised.

Just about every candidate has a website or at least a Facebook page for their campaign.

Don’t stop there.

You can take a look at the SC Public Ethics Reporting to see reported campaign contributions. It can be a bit awkward to navigate at first but gets easier once you get the hang of it. If it shows “No Entries”, check back again later. Candidates are required to report any campaign contributions and expenses.


Candidates are required to campaign disclosures – disclosing all campaign contributions and expenditures. … You must file campaign disclosures every quarter as long as you maintain a balance in your campaign checking account.

South Carolina State Ethics Commission

For local campaigns, I also strongly suggest searching social media. Not just their personal pages, but go into local groups and you can search within that group to see what posts and comments they have made or where their name has come up.

On the desktop version, at the top of a FB group is a magnifying glass you can click to search that group.

Talk to your trusted sources of information who are in roles that regularly deal with these departments and offices.

Talk to your friends and neighbors who are teachers.

Talk to your friends who have to deal with the county council and their decisions.

There are usually public events to hear from different candidates. And you can always reach out to candidates individually to ask questions. You may or may not get a personal response, usually depending on the level of office and size of the campaign.

Know the Questions

I just learned today that my ballot has 3 questions on it. I will spend time over the next few weeks researching each question, each possible side, the who/what/when/where and most importantly why.

I don’t know about the other 2 questions, but the one about Lexington County sales tax and roads is a doozy. It’s a complicated puzzle of factors and moving parts. Where does the money we already pay go? Why do we need the extra money? How will that money be spent? (Road funding is apparently a whole complicated thing.) What roads does the county maintain vs the roads the state maintains? Who decides where the money goes? What happens if we pass it? What happens if we don’t pass it?

I still have some serious research to do.

2022 Gubernatorial Debate on Oct 26th
2022 Lieutenant Governor Debate
2nd Congressional District Debate
League of Women Voters Board Candidate Forum

Lexington One School Board Candidate Forum
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I’m jumping ahead to touch on “After the election”. Keep reading. We’ll circle back to everything you need to know to register to vote, check your registration, view a sample ballot, and other resources and information shortly.

After the election

Elected officials make decisions on behalf of their constituents. In order for representatives to make informed decisions, they need to know what the people they represent want and what issues are important to them.

Our responsibilities as citizens aren’t over once our votes are cast.

We’re fortunate to live in a time where we can affect change on so many fronts.

We have to become informed and work together to make positive changes.

We have to speak up and speak out.

We have to encourage our leaders to do the right thing.

We have to work together to make things better.

We have to support the rights of everyone in our community.

We can be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves.

We have to hold our leaders accountable for their actions.

What you need to do: register to vote, find your polling place

If you want to make sure that your voice is heard during the next election, the first step is to register to vote. You can check your current voter registration online to make sure that you are registered and that your information is up-to-date. Once you know that you are registered, you can look at your sample ballot to see what will be on the ballot during the next election. Finally, you can locate your polling place so that you know where to go on election day.


SCVotes.gov has a TON of information, resources, and links to just about everything you could possibly need to register, check your registration, view a sample ballot.

Register to vote

In South Carolina, the easiest way to register to vote is by going to https://scvotes.gov/voters/register-to-vote/. In order to register online, you must have an SC Driver’s License or DMV-issued ID card that has your current address.

You also have the option to register in person at your local county board of voter registration. In Lexington County, the Registration and Elections office is located at 605 W. Main St, Suite C, Lexington, SC, 29072.

Under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (also known as the “NVRA” and the “Motor Voter Act”), states are required to offer voter registration opportunities at all offices that provide public assistance and all offices that provide state-funded programs primarily engaged in providing services to persons with disabilities.

You have the option to register by mail. You can find the form, details, and county-level specifics at https://scvotes.gov/voters/register-to-vote/

Check your voter registration

Even if you have been registered to vote for years and never had an issue, it’s very important to check your voter registration to confirm your information is correct and that your registration is active.

Before the 2020 election, I went online to view my sample ballot and was quite surprised when it wouldn’t pull anything up. I’ve been an active voter for ages and had made the proper address changes when we last moved. I called the Lexington office, and while they did not have an explanation as to why my registration was not current, they quickly fixed it.

You can check your voter registration status at scvotes.gov, or by contacting your county voter registration office. To find the contact information of your county’s Voter Registration and Election Commission, visit scvotes.gov/offices.

If you have moved within Lexington county since you previously voted, you can make address changes at the Registration and Elections office by completing the online change of address form and taking the form, a photo ID with your current address, or a utility bill, bank statement or another document that shows your current address to the Registration and Elections office at 605 W. Main St, Suite C, Lexington, SC.

Check your sample ballot

Why should you look at the sample ballot for the upcoming election? It tells you who is running for office in your voting district and lists the local issues that are on your ballot so you research each position, candidate, and question to make an educated decision on how to vote. Again, scvotes.org is your best friend for voting information. You put in your county, name, DOB, and last 4 of your social and it shows you a .pdf of the ballot for exactly your area.

I’ll admit, I had no idea there are going to be questions about amending sections in the state constitution. I did know there would be a question about local sales tax. Each of these questions should be thoroughly researched.

Locate your polling place

Know where to go to vote. Your voter registration and sample ballot will each list your local polling place. Watch for changes! From time to time, polling places will be changed at the last minute due to any number of reasons.

Early Voting

In Lexington County, Early Voting sites will be open October 24th – November 6th, Monday thru Saturday from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm at these locations:

  • County Voter Registration and Elections Office: 605 West Main Street, Room 130, Lexington, SC 29072
  • Midlands Technical College (Batesburg-Leesville Campus): 423 College Street, Lexington, SC 29072
  • Midlands Technical College (Harbison Campus): 7300 College Street, Irmo, SC 29063
  • Pelion Community Center: 951 Pine Street, Pelion, SC 29070
  • West Columbia Community Center: 754 B. Avenue, West Columbia, SC 29169

Absentee Voting

In-person Absentee Voting is no longer allowed in SC and has been replaced with Early Voting. However, qualified voters can still cast their ballot by mail for absentee voting. There is quite a lengthy list of criteria and steps to take to vote absentee. Guess where you can go for that info … that’s right, the super handy https://scvotes.gov/voters/absentee-voting/.

Remember that every vote counts!

There are many important things to consider when voting in a local election. Perhaps the most important thing is to research the roles, candidates, and local issues on the ballot. By doing this, you can make an informed decision about who and what to vote for.

It is also important to be aware of the deadlines for registering to vote and for absentee voting. Make sure you are registered to vote well in advance of Election Day. If you will not be able to make it to the polls during Early Voting or on Election Day, make sure you request an absentee ballot in plenty of time.

Make sure you exercise your right to vote in every election, whether local, state, or national.

Every vote has the potential to make a difference!

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