LOWCOUNTRY LOWDOWN

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By LOLITA HUCKABY

Let the voting begin!

BEAUFORT – Absentee voting stations opened in county election offices across the state Monday and from reports, there was a steady line of folks interested in doing their democratic duty.

According to statistics from the state elections office, 29,748 applications for absentee ballots had been submitted as of Oct. 2. Compare this to the 134,272 registered voters in the county and you can see folks are planning ahead.

Office hours are 9 a.m. to 4 pm., Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31. In the past, absentee voting was limited to those older than 65 years of age or individuals who would be away from home on Election Day. But this year, because of the virus, restrictions were lifted and any registered voter can go to one of three locations in the county – the Voter Registration and Election office on John Galt Road near Lowe’s; in Bluffton at the county satellite office at 61B Ulmer Road; or on Hilton Head Island at the satellite office at 539 William Hilton Parkway.

The last day for in-person absentee voting is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2.

Don’t forget to bring your ID!

Only 53 percent counted

BEAUFORT – With all the strangeness of 2020, we probably shouldn’t be surprised that only 53 percent of Beaufort County residents have responded to the official U.S. Census.

The deadline for filing census forms has been extended through the month to Oct. 31, and local government officials – those that don’t have to focus on election plans – are continuing to beat the drum to get folks to fill out those forms.

It’s interesting to read online some of the reasons people are giving for not filing out those – largely concern about giving out personal information that could be used later “against them.” It’s a strange world and who knows.

But the population counts ARE used for establishing voting districts, determining grant eligibility… and impact the future makeup of the electoral college, a matter of considerable interest come presidential election time.

Don’t put out welcome mat for Yemassee, yet

YEMASSEE – It’s apparently going to be a while before Yemassee residents can call Beaufort County “home” … if ever.

The latest efforts to annex Yemassee into Beaufort County have fallen short when 140 of the signatures on the signed petitions asking for a referendum on the question had not been verified, according to a spokesman in the Governor’s office.

Supporters of the move want all of town, not just half of it, to be taken out of Hampton County and brought into Beaufort.

The roughly 1,500 residents would eventually have an opportunity to vote on the boundary move which would include an I-95 exit which Beaufort County currently does not have.

Investigation of accident on McTeer Bridge continues

PORT ROYAL – As of press deadline, the investigation into the Sept. 19 accident on the McTeer Bridge which left a pregnant mother and her three children dead continues.

A report issued last week by the Port Royal police department stated a 19-year-old male in a gold Chevrolet Malibu and another vehicle, a Ford-150 truck, were also involved in the accident that propelled the victims’ minivan over the bridge railing and into the water. No charges have been filed in the incident.

The driver of the minivan was able to escape the car, but Lasha Takia Doe, 36; Jashawn Hawkins, 16 and a student at Battery Creek; Alonzo Houston, 6 and a student at Robert Smalls; and Cameron Perry, 3, died in the accident.

Lolita Huckaby Watson is a community volunteer and a former reporter/editorial assistant/columnist with The Beaufort Gazette, The Savannah Morning News, Bluffton Today and Beaufort Today. She can be reached at bftbay@gmail.com