October has a new name for the South Carolina Democratic Party — Votetober.
After months of being unable to do much in-person promotion, state Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson said the party is kicking off a statewide promotional campaign. The “All In” campaign van is traveling to each county in the state to help candidates get their messages out, while also promoting early absentee voting. It stopped Tuesday afternoon at West Cambridge Park, where state and local Democratic party officials handed out campaign signs and stickers, and candidates had the chance to promote themselves.
“We know that Election Day is November 3, but we want October to be Votetober,” Robertson said. “We want everybody to go ahead and cast their ballots now so that we can do it responsibly, we can do it safely and nobody risks their lives in order to cast their vote.”
Because many poll workers are older people who tend to be more susceptible to serious illness from COVID-19, Robertson said more people are turning to absentee voting. That’s putting stress on the absentee voting process, however, so he said the party is advising voters to plan to vote early.
In Greenwood, voters will be able to cast absentee ballots in person at two locations, the voter registration office at Park Plaza and at 314 Main St., in the old Rugs of Distinction store location. The Uptown absentee voting site is expected to open next week, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursdays.
Charlotte Ross, one of the voters who came out to Tuesday’s campaign stop by the state Democratic Party, said she voted that morning. She voted in-person absentee at the voter registration office, and said the process went smoothly.
“It was easy, and I feel confident it was secure,” she said. “I’m 82 years old, and in all my years of voting, this is the most important election I’ve seen.”
Robertson said the inability to campaign in person for so long also sparked innovation from both parties and candidates. Claire Robinson, spokeswoman for the state Republican Party, said COVID-19 also affected their candidates’ ability to coordinate in-person events, especially in the primary election.
“Now that we’re months into this thing, we know how to meet safely, wear masks, things like that,” she said.
Robertson and the other party officials and volunteers who came out Tuesday to hand out campaign materials were all wearing masks, and a bottle of hand sanitizer sat on the table, beside rows of buttons and bumper stickers. Some local candidates were given the chance to speak to the handful of people who gathered at the park for the campaign stop.
Denise Waldrep, who is running to unseat state Rep. John McCravy from the House District 13 seat, talked about taking to Facebook to live stream town hall meetings with local officials and organizations. She touted her experience as an educator in shaping a future that’s focused on ensuring educational opportunities that could provide generational growth for the area.
After her, state Sen. Floyd Nicholson focused on his work with the Senate finance committee, where he said he worked to secure funding for local organizations like Piedmont Technical College, the Greenwood Genetic Center and Habitat for Humanity. State Rep. Anne Parks emphasized that while voters hear the same refrain every four years, it’s essential that eligible voters cast their ballots.
“There is simply no excuse for you not to vote,” she said. “And when you go, take someone with you.”