Two elected races involving write-in candidates appeared to be decided Tuesday night, even with not all precincts reporting at press time.
With two precincts uncounted out of a total 74, voters re-elected Sheriff Michael Hunt with 95 percent of the vote. Hunt garnered 39,300 votes out of the total 41,198 cast, according to unofficial numbers. Nearly 1,900 votes – or 4.6 percent – went to write-in candidates, but it's unclear how many were cast for declared write-in Jim Vause. Results from the two precincts not yet reported are not expected to be counted and released until sometime Wednesday, according to an Aiken County Elections official.
None of the absentee votes for any race had been counted by press time.
“I appreciate the continued support from the citizens of our county and look forward to serving them for the next four years,” Hunt said.
Vause called the win for Hunt “resounding” and said he will support the sheriff for the next four years.
“The only thing I'm sad about is I can't save the children and the abused animals,” he said. “I am grateful for the people that supported me.”
One of Vause's campaign promises was that he would shut down alleged dogfighting rings in Aiken County.
Additionally, it appeared Charles Barton was elected auditor for Aiken County, according to unofficial numbers. Barton received 96.6 percent of the vote – 36,123 votes out of the total 37,367 cast. Approximately 1,240 votes – or 3.33 percent – went to write-in candidates, but again, it's unclear how many were cast for declared write-in Daniel Turno.
“I guess what pleases me the most is the form of government referendum failed. Voters decided they wanted to keep those positions (treasurer and auditor) elected,” Barton said.
Barton will forfeit his District 6 seat on Aiken County Council now that it looks like he has been elected auditor.
“I knew it was going to be a long shot because I was not the Republican nominee on the ballot,” Turno said. “It was a fight against a straight-ticket party punch.”
More than 12,840 write-in votes were cast for Aiken County Treasurer, according to unofficial numbers. However, Registration and Election officials won't know to which candidates the votes go to until perhaps some point today. There are 11 declared write-in candidates for treasurer, and none of their names appeared on the ballot. Voters had to manually type them in.
The candidates for treasurer are John Cagle, Debra Folk, Jason Goings, Angela Gunter, Faye Hatcher, Melissa Oremus, Francis Pennington, Robin Saylor, Ed Smith, Sonya Spray and Mike Wheelis.
“It's been such a crazy ride it's just another hill on the roller coaster,” Gunter said. “We'll ride it to the end.”
“I think we've all been on pins and needles for days. I handed it over to God a few days ago,” said Oremus.
At 9 a.m. today, Invotronic precinct tape processing began. All candidates are welcome to observe the process.