Originally created 06/14/06

Vote brings brief party switches



CLEARWATER - Democratic voters at the predominantly Republican Willow Springs 49th Precinct outnumbered their GOP counterparts by a margin of nearly 3-to-1 by midmorning Tuesday.

"We're trying to get Tommy Moore elected. That's why we're here," said Josh Warren, who chatted with the state senator from Clearwater who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.

Mr. Moore said he was "cautiously optimistic" about his chances.

"I would be satisfied with the outcome regardless. I think I've done everything I know to do to express our issues," he said.

Clearwater wasn't the only place that saw party faithful jumping ship.

At 1 p.m. Tuesday, 112 people had voted Republican at Precinct 47 in the city of Aiken, while only 23 voted Democrat.

The precinct leans Republican, but South Carolina's primary system helps explain the lopsided total.

Residents can cast votes for Democratic or Republican candidates, but not both.

In Precinct 47, there were only two Democratic races to chose from, while the Republicans had seven contests on the ballot.

"Several people said they only voted Republican because they had more choices on that side," poll manager Bea Peyser said.

There were a few hitches and glitches along the way.

Charles Staples, of Aiken, said a voting machine initially malfunctioned when he tried to vote for Mr. Moore in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

The former chairman of the Aiken County Democratic Party said the voting machine at Hollow Creek 53rd Precinct recorded his vote for another candidate but that it was corrected after he complained.

He said his wife, a poll manager at the precinct, told him the same voting machine had malfunctioned several times for voters from both parties.

"It wasn't just a Democratic problem. It was a machine problem," he said.

Mr. Staples said the county Registrations & Elections office was notified and had the machine recalibrated.

In Barnwell County, election officials used paper ballots for a few hours Tuesday after an error occurred in preparing the electronic voting machines.

South Carolina Bureau Chief Josh Gelinas and The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Reach Betsy Gilliland at (803) 648-1395, ext. 113, or betsy.gilliland@augustachronicle.com.