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Republican presidential primary voters will probably have to travel a little farther than usual to cast their ballots next month, but how much farther is still an open question.
Beaufort County has been directed to consolidate polling places to save money. But the extent of that consolidation might depend on how much money the state provides to pay poll workers.
The county's Board of Elections and Voter Registration discussed options Wednesday, but they postponed a decision until next week, when members expect to have more guidance from the state.
County elections executive director Scott Marshall presented three proposals:
During the 2008 primaries, there was some consolidation, but not as much. Marshall estimated the county ran perhaps 40 or 45 polling places, instead of the 60 for a normal election.
But board member Dean Hewitt said some Lady's Island residents were frustrated with even that minimal adjustment.
Some voters went to their normal polling places, and simply went home when they didn't find ballots. Others went to the wrong locations. And some voted correctly in the primary, but then, confused by the switch, showed up at the wrong locations for the subsequent election.
"Now, how many? It was a handful. Maybe a half a dozen instances, maybe a few more," Hewitt said. "But there is that potential."
Board member James Rowe said the exercise seems like one of simple math.
"We get the figures from the state that they're going to reimburse us, we stick it in this column right here, and we figure out how many locations we can do with that amount of money," Rowe said. "The point being, then we don't cost the county a dime."
Others seemed uncomfortable with the amount of consolidation suggested, and board member Beverly Dore said she expects high turnout this year.
"Seventeen locations -- that's unreal," Dore said. "Since the economy is not doing well, people will show up."
Follow reporter Kyle Peterson at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufortCo.