2024 Greenville Primaries – It Ain’t Over

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This episode of Simple Civics: Greenville County was made possible by support from Beth and Mike Andrews, supporting civic engagement from all of our community’s residents, and Upstate Warrior Solution, a community-based nonprofit organization serving warriors and their families in the upstate of South Carolina, and LiveWell Greenville, bridging access to healthy eating and active living since 2011.

It’s election over time! Six races in the Greenville County 2024 primary are going on to a runoff on June 25th. This episode covers how runoffs work, who will be on the next ballot, how our turnout ended up in this important primary, and what’s next for our elections.

Transcript

Katy Smith:
Who loves a cliffhanger? Well, that’s what last week’s statewide primary gave us in six races in Greenville County. I’m Katy Smith with Greater Good Greenville, and in this episode of Simple Civics Greenville County, I’ll talk with our producer Nathaniel DeSantis about what happened in the June 11th statewide primary and what’s next. In short, for many of you voters and many of these candidates, it ain’t over till it’s over, and that will happen on June 25th in the runoff. We’ll also talk about voter turnout in Greenville County. And I’ll preview for you that it’s pretty good news. Thanks for listening.

Nathaniel DeSantis:
Katy, welcome back to the podcast.

Katy Smith:
Thanks, Nathaniel.

Nathaniel DeSantis:
Always a great time having a conversation with you on here. So let’s just get into the meat of it. So as the listeners know, we have had a lot of podcast episodes discussing the elections. You listened to a lot of candidates. You listened to a lot of behind the scenes content about everything. And the primaries are now officially over so yay to everyone who made it through who voted who went out there who did everything they had to do but it seems like this is a little bit complicated right now and, that it’s not quite over. So what’s on your mind with this?

Katy Smith:
Yes. All the people who came out and voted or who got a lot of mailers and couldn’t wait for the primaries to be over think, oh, goodness, thank goodness that’s done. But guys, it’s not quite done. And this is really exciting. So there are six races in Greenville County that have runoffs. And the way runoffs work is if no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote plus one, Then there’s a runoff two weeks later between the top two vote getters to determine the winner.

Katy Smith:
Now, in a minute, I’m going to be real direct with you guys about runoffs. But first, let me make sure you know what they are and how they work. So as an example, let’s look at a state Senate race. And just as a reminder, state Senate is important because last session they considered bills on medical marijuana, carrying handguns without a permit, what can and can’t be taught in public schools, and of course, so much more. So if we look at Senate District 6 as an example, that represents North Main Street in Greenville, along Wadehampton Boulevard near the city, Paris Mountain, Berea, that general area. In that district, there were three candidates on the ballot, Ben Carper, Jason Elliott, and Dan Nichols. In that race, Jason Elliott received just over 48% So just shy of that 50% plus one needed to win outright. And in second place was Ben Carper that got just over 31% of the vote. So now those two gentlemen go to a runoff with early voting opening June 19th through the 21st and then the runoff day on June 25th.

Katy Smith:
That will determine who is in Senate District 6. The same is true in five more races in Greenville County. I’m going to go ahead and list them out for you so you can pay attention if this includes you. We have State House 28 in Southern Greenville County between Chris Huff and Carrie Smith. We have County Council District 20 in the Taylors area between Alex Reynolds and Steve Shaw. County Council District 22 in the North Main area between Frank Farmer and Jay Rogers. County Council District 25 in the Pleasant Valley and Belle Meade area between Ennis Fant and Derek Corals, and in the U.S. House of Representatives District 3 between Sherry Biggs and Mark Burns. So, six races that are not yet decided that are going to the runoff.

Katy Smith:
Historically, our turnout tells me that most people, maybe most of you guys listening, think of voting in the the runoff as like kind of the extra mile. Like you already did your thing. You’re done. You don’t want this extra, extra credit. But y’all, the runoffs are when it gets exciting because it’s like the overtime or the extra innings. In 2022, we had already pretty unimpressive turnout for the primary election of 14.4%. When we went to runoffs in both the Republican and Democratic parties, So really, everyone had a reason to vote. We had an embarrassingly pathetic 7.9% participation, and that’s rounding up. So less than 8% of Greenville County voters helped determine who went on to serve in important offices. Just a few hundred people decided who is helping make policy for the whole county or the whole state. So let me continue with this sports analogy. How many of y’all have stayed up too late because the basketball game you were watching went into to overtime or you had to call your friends to tell them you’d be late for dinner because the football game was tied and you had to stick around a little longer. You don’t turn off the TV because regulation time ended. That’s when you ramp up the energy, right? You change seating positions in the den, or you flip your cap, or you be sure everyone keeps their legs crossed, just like they had it when your team hits a home run.

Katy Smith:
With elections and you choosing the people who set the policies and fundings that you all either desperately want or complain about, when the buzzer goes off and it’s a tie game, voters turn off the TV. They head out to the car to beat traffic. What? But if you voted in the June 12th primary, there is zero excuse for you not to be voting in the runoff because that’s when it’s getting real and getting exciting. Okay, here’s another way the sports analogy holds. I personally am a terrible sports fan. I’m the one who’s doing laundry or reading a book or scrolling on my phone in the middle of games while the rest of my family is riveted. But do you know what I do do? When it goes into overtime or extra innings, I suddenly roll into the family room and sit down. I’ve been cheering the whole time because now, for some reason, it matters to me and it’s exciting. In our runoffs in South Carolina, you can do that too. If you didn’t vote at all in the primary and didn’t even pay attention, you can come and vote in the runoff and help determine the winner in overtime. How great is that?

Nathaniel DeSantis:
So then really quickly, let me ask, is there any situation in which you can’t vote?

Katy Smith:
Yes, you cannot switch primaries for the runoff. If you voted in the Democratic primary, you can’t now go vote in the Republican primary. If you voted in the Democratic primary, you can vote in a Democratic runoff if there is one for you. But honestly, in Greenville County, there really aren’t too many geographic areas, if any, if I can remember, that that would even be possible in because so many of our seats were not contested in the primary. Mary. So for the most part, I would venture to say almost all of you can go vote in a runoff.

Nathaniel DeSantis:
So this sounds very important. Another very important thing for people to know on top of that are the details of this year’s runoff. So could you remind us of that?

Katy Smith:
Yes. So you can vote early from June 19th through June 21st from 8.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. And then on runoff day, which is June 25th from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., just like the regular primary election. And scvotes.gov has all that information about where you can go, as does the Greenville County Election Commission.

Nathaniel DeSantis:
So how can people learn about these candidates?

Katy Smith:
Well, we continue to be a resource for you. So we have our candidate lookup tool still available, and we’ll link it in the show notes. You can just click on that and you will see who is still on the ballot, including a way to look up your sample ballot. So take a look, listen to the podcasts, read the transcript, look at their social media and their websites, and inform yourself or re-inform yourself and get out there and vote.

Nathaniel DeSantis:
So something that is very interesting to me, and we’ll get to this in a bit, but we get to see the data of how the podcast is doing, how the website is doing, how the YouTube is doing, which, by the way, these are now on YouTube for anyone listening. And in my eyes, in the back of my mind, I had a feeling this would be a good turnout. But I want to officially ask you, how did we do with the turnout? Was it good? Was it bad? Was it average? Tell us about that.

Katy Smith:
Okay, Nathaniel, we did better. We went up from our 14.4% turnout in 2022 of just about 58,500 people to 17.4% turnout or more than 58,000 people. That’s almost 10,000 more people voting in Greenville County. Now the results are not yet finalized. So this is as of Friday, June 14th at noon. and this is from the state election commission. So even as we speak right now, if you voted a provisional ballot, meaning maybe your address had changed or something was kind of screwy, that’s all being resolved even as we speak, but it shouldn’t, you know, change that outcome in any significant way. So again, you guys, almost 10,000 more people voted in this 2024 primary than 2022. And I am, could not be more excited because what we are is pro-civic engagement. and y’all showed up.

Nathaniel DeSantis:
And that is what this podcast is all about, getting people involved. So, you know, we love seeing that. We love seeing the increase because it’s our civic responsibility and our civic duty. So that’s great to see that happen. We love to see that. And I guess there might be people like me who might be wondering why, why an increase all of a sudden, why we go up from 14.4% in 2022 to 17.4%. That’s a pretty significant increase. So enlighten us. Why the increase?

Katy Smith:
I think there were a lot of factors that added up to make it happen. Very important are the efforts of the candidates themselves. We had a good many contested races just on Greenville County Council, and these candidates beat the pavement. I mean, if you followed any of their social media, they were knocking on doors like crazy. They were holding information sessions and meet and greets in their neighbors’ houses. It is so impressive how many of of them really got out there and beat the pavement. And they sent out a lot of mailers. Now, I know mailers might drive some of you crazy, but it did help people know that an election was happening and hopefully follow through on researching those candidates. So first of all, obvious kudos and thanks to those people who raised their hand to serve and help spread the word. Second, I really like to believe that Get Out the Vote efforts like ours and our partners with VoteGVL have really helped inform folks. I mean, the podcast, the candidate lookup tool that we made available, the boost we did of it on Facebook, we’ve had a ton of attention because of it. And I think when you hear your neighbors talking about it in ways like that, that hopefully make the process feel a little bit less complicated and confusing and more relevant. I hope that that helped too.

Katy Smith:
And then thirdly, I really think it’s you. It’s you guys listening. You are spreading the word to your neighbors that this matters. You all who listen to Simple Civics Greenville County are ambassadors for the civic process. Really, our listenership, which is steadily growing, indicates that. And so I can’t thank you enough because really, word of mouth is the best way to get someone engaged in the civic process and to help inform them. So keep it up. And really, your next step as a civic ambassador is to tell people how important the runoff is. So please help spread the word. So I mean, really, Nathaniel, you’re on the data side of things. You get to see the back end of who’s listening and who’s engaging with YouTube and on our website. I’m supposing that all of that reveals that this is true, that our listeners are really engaged and growing?

Nathaniel DeSantis:
We are 100% definitely seeing that in the stats. I’m super excited that in 45 days, we got 38,000 hits in that 45 day period, 38,000 hits across the podcast website, the podcast itself and the podcast YouTube channel. So it just smashed all records and I want to just clarify really quickly because if you’re not involved in this industry you might be a little bit confused by how stats works but I say 38,000 hits because it might be someone coming to the website reading the transcript then they decide they want to finish off by listening to the episode and that’s two hits right so it might not be 38,000 individual people but it is, 38,000 hits overall. And that is, again, a record in that short amount of time for the podcast. Absolutely incredible.

Katy Smith:
That’s so great. I mean, thank you for your partnership, Nathaniel. And really, thank you to all of you who are turning up and helping spread the word. It just really spread the word about government and civics and your role. That’s what we’re most excited about. out.

Nathaniel DeSantis:
So then last question of the podcast for today. What is next?

Katy Smith:
Yeah. After the primary runoff is over on June 25th, we will all be getting ready for the general election on November 5th, 2024. And of course, I’m sure you know there’s a presidential election, but we have still important local and state elections. So wherever there were seats that were opposed, those will be be on the ballot. So there are some county council seats that have opposition. There are some state house and Senate seats that have opposition, congressional seats, all of that will be on the ballot in addition. But there are some races we have not yet talked about at all. And that is because we don’t know who they are. And that is our Greenville County School Board. So half of our school board members will be on the ballot. And different about school board from all these these other races, they are nonpartisan. So when people file to run, they don’t file by party. They just file as themselves. They’re raising their hand to serve on the school board. They will be filing in August, so we won’t yet know who they are. They will let us know when they file, and we will invite all of them in for an interview in partnership with our friends at Public Education Partners.

Katy Smith:
We really need you to pay attention to that. And one reason I want to particularly lift it up is we have a high number of folks who vote a straight party ticket. I’m going to tell you, I’m a fan of civic engagement. I am not a fan of that. No matter what your party is, I really think it’s important to scrutinize each candidate. When you vote straight party, then you might miss school board because folks don’t file by party. So school board will be really important. We want to inform you of who these folks are, and we’ll be doing that as the election comes, along with other interviews with those contested races. So what’s next for us is bringing you more candidate interviews, bringing you more candidate information, and encouraging you to encouraging your friends, families, neighbors to turn up to vote in November. All right.

Nathaniel DeSantis:
Well, everyone, that is the end of today’s episode. Thank you to everyone who showed up, went out, informed their neighbors, informed their friends, informed their family members, because we love seeing that number jump from 14.4% to 17.4%. And Katy, thank you for all of the work that you do. I feel like you don’t get enough credit sometimes, but this podcast would not be here without you and the work of Greater Good Greenville. So thank you as always for your efforts as well. Thank you to the candidates that put the time in to show up. It might seem like a simple thing to talk here for 10 minutes, but from personal experience, it can be a little bit frightening, honestly, to come on a podcast for the first time for a lot of people their first time. So thank you to the candidates, for everyone who put their name in, because that is no easy task at all. And we need that. In a healthy democracy, you need people who are willing to put their name in. So thank you to the Election Commission at South Carolina. If you listened to the last episode that was published before this one, the work that they do is absolutely incredible on election day and very stressful work. It’s all smooth and it just works. So huge shout out to them. And yeah, Katy, thank you again.

Katy Smith:
Oh, listen, and one more person to thank is our sponsors. Because we of course put in lots of love and attention and whatever smarts we have. But it’s thanks to our financial supporters that this is possible. You hear them at the beginning of our episodes. But I will say to you, if you are interested in providing support to the Simple Civics podcast, you can go on our website at That’s simplecivicsgreenvillecounty.org. And there’s a little donate button. So we invite you to participate in helping make the podcast run. So thanks all of you. And thanks so much as always, Nathaniel. 

Catherine Puckett: Simple Civics: Greenville County is a project of Greater Good Greenville. Greater Good Greenville was catalyzed by the merger of the Nonprofit Alliance and the Greenville Partnership for Philanthropy. You can learn more on our website at greatergoodgreenville.org. This is a production of Podcast Studio X.

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