In-person absentee voting opens for Sumter mayor, city council runoff races


In-person absentee voting begins Tuesday, Nov. 10, for two elections in the City of Sumter that made it to a runoff.

The absentee precinct, located at the old Sumter County courthouse at 141 N. Main St. in room 308, opens Tuesday at noon for the city’s mayor race and Sumter City Council Ward 2.

Voting is open until 5 p.m. Tuesday and then between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Monday. The precinct will also be open on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

According to Pat Jefferson, Sumter County Voter Registration and Elections director, only those who live within city limits can vote for mayor. Anyone who also lives in the city’s Ward 2 can vote for that race.

She said people can also vote by mail. Request a ballot by calling the election office at (803) 436-2310.

You can vote in the runoff even if you did not vote in the general election. Both races are nonpartisan.

The mayoral runoff started with six candidates but is now between two current city councilmen, Calvin Hastie and David Merchant. Both secured the two most votes, but neither earned more than 50% of the vote, triggering the runoff.

Merchant, who currently represents Ward 6 but did not seek reelection to run for mayor, earned the most votes in the general election with 41.6%, or 7,050 votes, according to the county’s certified results.

Hastie, currently the councilman for Ward 3, earned 28.1%, or 4,765 votes. Ward 3 is not up for election for two more years, so he would have to vacate his seat if he wins.

For Ward 2 on city council, James Blassingame and Talitha Harrison will go head to head in a runoff after Blassingame received 40.5% of the votes (1,158) and Harrison received 29.3% of the votes (838). The original race was between four candidates.

The runoff culminates on Nov. 17, when regular precincts in the city will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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To read Q&As from the candidates, read our special Vote 2020 guide that originally published in October. To read, click here: