Horry – Yes. Georgetown – No.
“It’s just that simple,” Rep. Russell Fry said at a Thursday night, Sept. 26, community meeting at the Murrells Inlet Community Center.
The Horry County Republican from Surfside Beach spoke to a crowd of about 100 people about an upcoming annexation vote.
Across the state of South Carolina, there are numerous county boundaries that are in the process of being adjusted.
Along the line between Georgetown and Horry counties, there’s a 2 ½-mile-long stretch of land that technically is part of Georgetown County.
Its width varies from about 200 feet to 500 feet.
But, somebody made a mistake and the area of about 200 properties has been treated as though it’s in Horry County. Among those properties, about 250 total voters will have a chance on Nov. 5 to decide whether to stay with Horry County or to officially recognize that the land is part of Georgetown County.
Fry, Rep. Lee Hewitt, R-Murrells Inlet, and Sen. Stephen Goldfinch, R-Murrells Inlet, have worked together to explain the situation to the “qualified electors” whose permanent address is in the affected area.
Goldfinch is also an attorney and a member of the S.C. Guard.
He was at a JAG course for the Guard but addressed the crowed via a video recording.
Each of the legislators discussed the background of the boundary issue.
Fry led much of the discussion. All three noted that the Nov. 5 election will be open to just the people who live in the affected area.
They will be able to vote in their normal polling places, and the polls will be open the normal hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Over at least several decades, the properties have been treated by both Georgetown and Horry counties as though they were in Horry County.
Taxes have been assessed and paid in Horry County, and they have voted in elections in Horry County.
Fry and Hewett said that people who live in the affected area or who believe they do can go to the polls on Nov. 5. Officials at the two polling places will be able to check the records to be sure. If there’s uncertainty but the voter believes he or she should be able to vote, then he can vote a “challenged” or “provisional” ballot. If it’s verified, then the vote will be counted in the totals.
During the hour-long meeting people were able to ask questions and get answers.
Along with the legislators, there were people present from the South Carolina Senate staff and the S.C. State Geodetic Survey who have done the mapping and verification work for the updated boundary lines.
Near the end of the meeting, Fry asked the audience: “If the vote was to be held today, how many of you would like to stay in Horry County?”
It appeared that just about every member of the audience raised a hand.,
When Fry asked how many would want to officially change their residence to Georgetown County, not a hand was lifted.
All three legislators agreed that they were in agreement that the voters should and would have their say, and said they had worked together.
They told several audience members that within the General Assembly, the other state senators and representatives would respect the will of the voters.
There will need to be enabling legislation introduced and passed to make the change official after the election.
Hewitt pointed out that the bill in the General Assembly to hold the special boundary election passed on a vote of 114-0.
He assured people there would be no problem getting a final approval from the legislature.