Portraits of South Carolina Primary Voters

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Portraits of South Carolina Primary Voters

Photographer Pete Voelker asked voters young and old what they cared about most in the upcoming election.
February 19, 2016, 6:11am

Donald Trump's campaign headquarters is perched near State and Meeting Street over looking the Congaree River in Columbia, South Carolina

Last week, the United States of America nervously watched the 2016 election season's second popularity contest take place in New Hampshire. Both parties had wins by outsider candidates. Bernie Sanders came away with the Democratic victory, retaining 20 percent more of the vote than his competitor Hillary Clinton, while Donald Trump landed the win for the Republicans defeating second runner-up John Kasich—also by a 20 percent margin. The Republican primary in South Carolina and the Democratic Party Caucus in Nevada will take place this Saturday. The Republican Party Nevada Caucus will be on February 23 and the Democratic South Carolina primary on Feb 27.

I spoke with some potential voters in SC about what issues mattered most to them and why they would be voting on February 20th.

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All photographs by Pete Voelker.

Chad is a student I met while walking the grounds of the South Carolina state house. Number one issue he cares about in the upcoming election: “Education and tuition.”

A life-sized sculpture of George Washington, originally made from marble between 1785–1792, located in the Virginia State Capitol. There are now many Bronze casts of the original located at state houses around the country. Here, the life mask is shown in front of the South Carolina State House in Columbia.

A handmade sign reads, “Households with a higher risk of food insecurity with children = SINGLE PARENT, BLACK, Hispanic,” as part of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week at the College of Charleston.

Payton Costill and Daniel King rolled up on two gorgeous Harleys while I was sitting outside of Drip Coffee Shop in Columbia, South Carolina. They shared many progressive ideas while we chatted. (Payton Costill, left) Number one issue in the upcoming election: “Redistribution of wealth, more jobs, marijuana legalization, and fixing the infrastructure on a state level.” (Daniel King, right) Number one issue in the upcoming election: “Income equality, minimum wage.”

Looking through the gate at Randolph Hall on George St., one of the oldest buildings at the College of Charleston, built in 1829. At this time, the path was lined with signs for Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

In the courtyard of Randolph Hall, I met Tyson Perry while he was moving between classes. Reason he's so excited about the upcoming election: “It will be my first time voting. I just want to participate.”

Mary Hamel, who is “enjoying using the left side of [her] brain, post retirement,” was painting the trees along the historical battery in Charleston, South Carolina.

Greg Lighter was on a tour with his daughter, a prospective student of the College of Charleston. Number one issue in the upcoming election: “Religious liberty and gay rights. We shouldn’t have to believe in it if we don’t.”

Sarah Porter, College of Charleston student attending the Bully Pulpit event. Number one issue in the upcoming election: “Immigration. I think there should be stricter laws on incoming immigrants and illegal immigrants and things like that.”

Mark Hayes, a Charleston local and Navy reservist who I met at the College of Charleston Bully Pulpit event. Number one issue in the upcoming election: “National security.”

Sherri Lombard, an avid Cruz supporter attending the College of Charleston Bully Pulpit event. Number one issue in the upcoming election: “I'm concerned about the debt. Also, I would like a strong president for military reasons, and to have a better relationship with Israel.”

Ray Nash and Mary Pierson were visiting the College of Charleston to see Ted Cruz speak at the institution’s Bully Pulpit series. Ray's number one issue in the upcoming election: “Returning constitutional limitations on the federal government.” Mary's number one issue: “My major concern is the amnesty/immigration issue, especially after Paris.”

Warlon Mack was leaving the College of Charleston Bully Pulpit event when I rushed over to ask him his views on the upcoming general election. Number one issue in the upcoming election: “Recognition of domestic problems in America, especially with minorities and the Black Lives Matter movements.”

Jack Or is a student who was eager to share his opinion at the College of Charleston Bully Pulpit event. Number one issue in the upcoming election: “Education. As a college student, it’s very important to me. The cost is very important.”

I met Savannah Leigh standing at the back of the crowd with a few friends at the College of Charleston Bully Pulpit event. Number one issue in the upcoming election: “Criminalization of poverty, especially within Charleston. There is a new ordinance that restricts donations to homeless, aimed toward ending panhandling.”

Ted Cruz speaking about the dangers of terrorism here in the United States at the College of Charleston’s Bully Pulpit Series, a program to help encourage students to participate in the political process.

A beautiful tree lined path at the Battery in historic downtown Charleston, South Carolina.