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AP Decision Notes: What to expect in South Carolina's primary runoffs

South Carolina will hold runoff elections next week to decide a handful of races in which no candidate received a majority of the vote in the primaries two weeks earlier.

WASHINGTON – South Carolina will hold runoff elections Tuesday to decide a handful of races where no candidate received a majority of the vote in the primaries just two weeks earlier.

In the 3rd Congressional District, a candidate backed by former President Donald Trump is running against the preferred candidate of Republican Governor Henry McMaster in a race likely to determine who will succeed outgoing Republican U.S. Representative Jeff Duncan.

In the June 11 primary, voters narrowed the large Republican field down to pastor Mark Burns and nurse Sheri Biggs. Burns, an Army veteran, is endorsed by Trump and received the most votes in the primary with about 33% of the vote. Biggs is an officer in the Mississippi Air National Guard and came in second in the primary with about 29%.

Biggs has the backing of McMasters and prominently features photos of herself and Trump on her campaign website. Biggs raised far more campaign funds than Burns during the campaign, but Burns had nearly three times as much campaign cash on hand before the primary, thanks to $750,000 in loans the candidate took out from a Missouri bank. Burns also reports carrying another $100,000 in loans from a previous congressional run.

The winner will face Democratic candidate Byron Best, the manager of a paint store in Greenwood. Both Burns and Biggs would be clear favorites in the safe Republican district in November. Trump won the area with 68% of the vote in 2020 and 67% in 2016. Duncan ran unopposed in 2022.

Runoff elections for eight Senate seats and four House seats are also scheduled for Tuesday. All 170 seats in the state legislature are up for election in November. Republicans have overwhelming majorities in both chambers.

Here's a look at what to expect on Tuesday:

Runoff day of the primary elections

The South Carolina runoff election will take place on Tuesday. Polls close at 7 p.m. ET.

WHAT IS ON THE BALLOT

The Associated Press will report voting results and announce the winners of 13 runoff elections, including one for the U.S. House of Representatives, eight for the Senate and four for state houses of representatives.

WHO CAN VOTE

Registered voters can participate in a partisan primary runoff if they voted in the same party's primary on June 11, or if they did not vote in the primary. In other words, voters in the Republican primary cannot participate in a Democratic runoff, and vice versa.

DECISION NOTES

The 3rd Congressional District includes parts or all of the 11 counties of which Anderson and Pickens tend to deliver the most votes. Trump won both counties in the presidential primary with 69% and 68% of the vote, respectively. In the closely contested 2018 Republican primary for governor, McMaster narrowly lost to Pickens but won the majority of the vote in Anderson. He also won five of the counties in the southern half of the district with double-digit majorities.

The AP does not make predictions and will only declare a winner if it determines that there is no scenario in which the trailing candidates could close the gap. If a race has not yet been called, the AP will continue to report on any major developments, such as candidate concessions or declarations of victory, while making clear that it has not yet declared a winner and explaining why.

In South Carolina, recounts are conducted automatically when the margin between the winning and losing candidates is within 1% of the total vote. The AP can declare a winner in a race eligible for a recount if it determines that the margin is too large for a recount or legal challenge to change the outcome.

WHAT ABOUT VOTER TURNOUT AND PRE-SELECTION?

As of June 5, there were about 3.3 million registered voters in South Carolina. The state does not register voters by party.

In the June 11 primary election, voter turnout was 14 percent of registered voters. About 32 percent of the votes were cast before primary day, according to data from the South Carolina Election Commission.

State data also showed that about 16,000 votes had been cast by Friday ahead of Tuesday's runoff, almost all of them through in-person early voting. Of the nearly 500 votes cast by mail, about 54% were Democratic and 46% were Republican. The state did not provide a breakdown of in-person early voting by party.

HOW LONG DOES THE COUNTING OF VOTES USUALLY TAKE?

In the June 11 primary, AP first reported results at 7:18 p.m. ET, 18 minutes after polls closed. Election night counting ended at 10:53 p.m. ET, after 99.9% of all votes had been counted.

ARE WE ALREADY THERE?

As of Tuesday, there are 133 days left until the parliamentary elections in November.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the 2024 election at

Anna Harden

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