The 19th century political observer Alexis de Tocqueville noted that elections in the United States bring a "feverish excitement."
I am witness to this excitement every two years. Aiken County can take pride in its residents, who are enthusiastic about their right to vote.
In order to have as pleasant an experience as possible, I offer the following voting points:
1. Review your ballot before your vote. This year, we have seven state constitutional amendments and two local questions. This creates a lengthy ballot.
If voters wait to look at the ballot when they enter the voting booth, lengthy lines will result. Please be familiar with the ballot before entering the voting booth. The ballot is available at www.scvotes.org and www.aikencountysc.gov.
If you cannot access the Internet, please read the handouts available at all voting precincts. A review of the ballot can do all other voters a favor.
2. The constitutional amendments have explanations describing their intent. If you do not understand a question, remember: A poll worker is not allowed to explain it to you.
3. Straight party voting is allowed in South Carolina for partisan offices, such as governor, state legislative offices and county council.
Nonpartisan races such as the school board and special purpose districts are not covered by a straight party vote.
To cast a vote for a nonpartisan candidate, you must make a selection in the individual race.
All school board and special purpose district offices are found on Page 3 of the Aiken County ballots.
Not every precinct will have school board or special purpose district races on the ballot this year.
4. If you have not voted since 1996, it is likely that your registration status has become inactive.
Contact your South Carolina county voter registration and elections office to activate your voter registration status. Going to your old precinct could produce some frustration, as your name may not appear in their voter registration list and this would delay your ability to vote.
If you are an Aiken County resident, call (803) 642-2030 for information.
5. Be mindful of the law regarding display of campaign literature. Campaign displays can be defined as bumper stickers, buttons, T-shirts, literature, hats, and a myriad of other things. Campaign items cannot be displayed within 200 feet of the entrance to the polling place.
If a poll worker asks you to remove or hide campaign literature, South Carolina law requires you to obey.
6. Since November 2004, Aiken County voters have cast ballots on electronic voting machines. Regulations issued by the State Election Commission require all voters at the precinct to cast a ballot on these machines unless your ballot is challenged by a poll worker, or if you have moved from the address where you are registered.
Electronic voting has been in South Carolina since 1986, and this method has proven to be reliable and secure.
It is the hope and goal of the Aiken County Registration and Elections Commission that your voting rights are exercised, because every vote matters and every vote counts.
Stuart T. Bedenbaugh is the executive director of the Aiken County Registration and Elections Office.