A referendum to allow Sunday alcohol sales in unincorporated areas of Laurens County passed with just over 55 percent of the vote during Tuesday’s general election.
The referendum passed with 10,961 votes (52.2 percent) for Sunday sales and 8,894 votes (44.8 percent) against it.
With its approval, the referendum will allow alcohol sales in restaurants and convenience and grocery stores on Sundays, but those sales will be restricted to unincorporated areas of the county. The ordinance passed in April by the Laurens County Council made no mention of “unincorporated areas” and was intended to cover the entire county, including incorporated municipalities such as the City of Laurens, Clinton, Gray Court and Waterloo.
It is still unclear who made the change in the language on the ballot, but the change was necessary to make the referendum legal, according to Laurens County Administrator Jon Caime.
“It was changed to make the referendum legal,” Caime said. “Apparently, the cities will have to do their own referendums. … When they reviewed it came back with language based on state law.”
Caime and representatives from the county said the local municipalities gave informal approval to be included in the county’s referendum on the question, but the law says the municipalities will have their own hold referendums, possibly as early as the next election in March.
While the entire county will be unable to offer Sunday alcohol sales for on- and off-premises consumption, areas such as Hickory Tavern and near Lake Greenwood outside of Waterloo and Cross Hill town limits will be able to sell wine and beer on Sundays.
Editor’s note: In an earlier version of this story, it was stated that the state election commission changed the wording of the question on the ballot, but a SCEC official said the commission does not conduct legal reviews of such questions and places them on the ballot as presented to them.