Polling varied across District 42
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Democrats in Senate District 42 headed to the polls Tuesday to pick a candidate to run for Robert Ford's old seat.
Ford stepped down in May in the midst of an ethics investigation and lingering health problems.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. You must live in District 42 to vote. To see what district in which you reside, click here.
Joe Debney, the executive director of the Charleston County Election Commissions, said it's hard to tell how strong turnout has been across the district because of its odd shape. The way lines are drawn make it hard to tell if a lot of people are voting because only a handful of people may be eligible to vote based on the district map, he said.
In Dorchester County, there is only one precinct in District 42. Twenty-five people have voted there as of 5 p.m., officials said.
At Joseph Floyd Manor, there were 125 voters before lunch. Debney said it is one of the more popular precincts and expects it to break 200 voters before polls close at 7 p.m.
The six candidates on the ballot are Emmanuel Ferguson, Herbert Fielding, Marlon Kimpson, Margaret Rush, Bob Thompson and Maurice Washington.
"It's pretty high stakes," said Gibbs Knotts, a political science professor at the College of Charleston. "Whoever emerges as the winner could be representing the district for quite a long time. There is not a lot of turnover among state legislators."
Tuesday morning, Washington cast his vote at the Charleston Charter School on King Street. He has a watch party planned at the Clarion Hotel on Dorchester Road.
"I will reach across the aisle to work with Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike to get the work for the people done," he said. "And legislation for a reading literacy program statewide to deal with the issue of too many kids not reading at grade level will be of paramount importance to me."
In light of several recent school shootings and the Trayvon Martin case, Washington has been outspoken on gun control. In the last debate, he said that he owned guns and believes that law-abiding citizens should be allowed to carry concealed weapons.
Rush has planned a watch party at 7 Cafe on Savannah Highway.
Kimpson was in line early Tuesday morning to vote.
"It is so imperative that we elect a leader who has a vision and a message for the 21st century. I'm a fighter. Public education is number one, healthcare for all is number two and for protecting our voting rights is so very fundamental," he said.
Tuesday afternoon, Ferguson cast his vote at St. Andrews Middle School.
"I think I am the newer and improved version of all of them. I'm younger, I've got better ideas, I've got more open ideas and I'm able to communicate the needs of this district. I feel better than any candidate, which is why I'm really excited about the results," he said.
Ferguson is the youngest candidate on the ballot at 28 years old.
If needed, there will be a Democratic runoff on August 27.The winner will take on Republican candidate Billy Shuman and Libertarian Alex Thornton on Oct. 1. Thornton was elected as the South Carolina Libertarian Party's official candidate over the weekend.