Before we get started: Hey, folks! Are you registered to vote? You can easily register to vote online in just a few minutes at the South Carolina Election Commission website. CLICK THIS LINK! Remember that the deadline to register to vote in the upcoming General Election is Sunday, October 4!
In 2016, I ran for federal office in South Carolina. Running for U.S. Congress was an amazing, exhilarating experience: I learned so much about my community!
But it was also really hard work. My congressional race had a primary, which is a “pre-vote” that determines which candidate can represent a particular political party in the General Election.
I spent every waking moment of my free time traveling all over the congressional district, from Richland County to Lexington County to Aiken County to Barnwell County. Our campaign staff participated in just about every parade and festival out there, from the Pelion Peanut Party Parade to the Famously Hot South Carolina Pride Parade.
At every event, we always engaged citizens in Voter Registration. I clearly remember doing a “meet & greet” at the Lake Carolina community during a festival on one particularly hot day in early May. (I also remember eating some pretty yummy food at Allean’s Southern Cuisine!)
I introduced myself to a young woman who had recently turned 18, but she wasn’t registered to vote yet. So, we handed her a voter registration application, and in just a few minutes, she was well on her way to becoming a Voter!
Fast forward to the primary election: June 14. It was even hotter that day—and I had just spent 12 hours introducing myself to voters at polling stations all over Richland County. As the election was winding down, I found myself at Ridge View High School.
At 6:57 p.m.—just three minutes before the polls closed—that same young woman I had met at Lake Carolina a month prior braked her car to a halt right in front of the polling station doors. She leapt out of her vehicle and ran past me into the polling station.
“I made it, Mr. Bjorn! I made it!” she shouted. “Today is my first vote ever!”
An exuberant voter and exhausted, but just as thrilled, candidate posed for a photo after she reemerged; then we went our separate ways.
Oh, and here’s the thing. In a district of 710,000 individuals, I won that primary election by a mere 44 votes.
I’ve been told it was the closest federal election in South Carolina history.
So when folks say, “Every vote counts”—trust me, they really do. I’m walking proof.
Remember: everyone has until Sunday, October 4 to register for the upcoming November General Election.