Turnout needed for school board elections locally

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Next Tuesday is an important date for Barnwell County’s registered voters.

It’s not a national or state election, but it is just as important – maybe more - as several school board seats will be decided on Barnwell County’s three public school boards.

Electing school board members is very important because they directly impact your child’s education by setting policy, adopting a budget and hiring key positions like the superintendent.

Unfortunately, school board elections aren’t typically known for large turnouts.

Last year, approximately 13 percent of the county’s 13,392 registered voters cast ballots in the April 12 election. Between the three districts only 1,797 voters turned out. That’s just a shame!

We hope more people take advantage of their right to vote this time around, which is why we encourage all registered voters to head to the polls on April 11. If you are unable to make it next Tuesday or meet certain requirements, you can vote by absentee ballot. Please contact the Barnwell County Voter Registration & Elections Office for details or visit scvotes.org.

Voters in Barnwell District 45 - the county’s largest of the three districts - have four candidates to select from for two open seats. One incumbent and three newcomers are on the ballot. You can read more about them on page 10A.

However, voters do not have a choice in Barnwell District 19 and Williston District 29 as only the incumbents are running. Profiles on these two candidates can be found on page 11A.

We hope you will take the time to read the profiles on the candidates from your respective district so you can gain a clear understanding of who they are, what they stand for and how they plan to help their school district if elected.

Our schools are an important part of our community. Good schools attract families and industries. This means jobs, opportunities, money and other resources for our small community. We need all of those that we can get.

Maybe a change is due for election schedule

Going back to the issue of voter turnout, what can be done to get more people out to vote?

We believe moving the school board elections to the general election in November makes sense. Most local municipalities have opted to move their elections to November in recent years in an effort to consolidate elections, which saves money and encourages more people to vote.

Local districts are aware of this option but have not adopted it yet. Why not?

We are not sure why the three districts have not changed their election date, but we hope they will in the future.

First off, it would save money as they could share the cost of the election with other bodies that are having elections, such as municipalities or the state. The poll workers will already be there, so it’s not placing an additional financial burden on anyone.

Who doesn’t like to save money? We sure do.

More important than the financial aspect, we believe consolidating the election date will encourage more voters to come out. Past data has shown that more people simply show up in November when there are state and national seats up for grabs.

For example, 9,568 of the county’s 14,372 registered voters cast ballots last year in the Nov. 8 General Election. That’s 66.57 percent! Some previous general elections have been even higher.

If you agree that the school board elections should be moved in the future, we encourage you to talk to your school board members - incumbent and newly-elected, superintendents and other leaders.