Ineligible voters: How do they affect town elections

  • Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mount Pleasant staff requested a look into how many ineligible voters cast ballots in the last Mount Pleasant election and what effect, if any, that would have on town elections. The investigation showed little impact, but revealed interesting annexation opportunities.
Two College of Charleston students who interned in the Mount Pleasant Administrative Office, Lauren Clarkin and Grace Heyne took on the task of assessing whether ineligible voters had voted or could have voted in Mount Pleasant elections. To accomplish this task, they compared the registered voter list, as provided by the South Carolina Election Commission with property information from Global Information Systems maps.
What they found was that as of Feb. 13, there were 50,140 registered voters in Mount Pleasant. Of those, 19 were registered voters who did not actually reside in the town. There were an additional 18 whose residential status was questionable. Some used addresses attached to commercial property. Some properties were found to be storage units. In summary, there may be 37 voters ineligible to vote in Mount Pleasant.
In the last general election (November 2010) there were 23,209 ballots cast from Mount Pleasant precincts.
Nine of those ballots were cast by voters who were confirmed to be ineligible. An additional five votes were cast by voters whose resident status is questionable. There were a total of 14 ballots cast that potentially were ineligible, yielding .06 percent of the vote (less than 1/2 of one percent).
In the last election, 40 votes separated two candidates, and 62 votes made the difference between becoming elected and not being elected.
Based on these numbers, according to the investigation, "if we assume that all 37 individuals were ineligible voters, and that they all voted for the same candidate in the last municipal election, there would have been no impact on the results," the investigation revealed. "It is important to note however, that given the margin of votes between candidates, the ineligible voters could impact the results of future elections.
Clarkin said that 31 registered voters listed non-residential addresses for voter registration. All of these non-residential areas were located within the town.
Six out of 31 have true residences located within the town. They are eligible voters. Seven out of the 31 have true residences located outside of the town. All seven had the ability to vote in the last election.
Of the 37 voters in question, 12 voters live on properties that are contiguous to properties located within the town and should therefore pursue annexation into the town.
Seven voters not located on lands contiguous to the town and cannot be pursued for annexation. Those properties were found on Broadway Street, Chuck Dawley Boulevard, Lillian Rebecca Lane, North Highway 17 and Omni Boulevard.
(Sully Witte can be reached by e-mailing editor@moultrienews.com.)

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