Friday, November 23, 2012
Voters on the Waccamaw Neck in School Board District 6 may be asked to return to the polls sometime in early 2013.
On Monday, the Georgetown County Board of Elections decided to hold a new election for that seat after a protest was filed by Peggy Wheeler-Cribb, who lost by 21 votes to Richard Kerr in the General Election.
At issue was a possibility that as many as 270 voters were given the wrong ballot and therefore may not have had the chance to vote in the race.
At a hearing that lasted a little more than an hour Monday, the main witness was Elections Board member Billy Altman who both testified and was able to vote on whether a new vote would be granted.
Attorney Dan Stacy, who represented Kerr, objected saying Altman should not be allowed to serve in two capacities at the hearing. His objection was denied by Election Board chairman Dean Smith.
During his testimony, Altman said he was in charge of overseeing the precincts in Murrells Inlet on Election Day. He said he began to notice some of his neighbors were receiving different ballots than he received.
When Cribb’s attorney, Bob Moran, asked Altman how many “disenfranchised voters” there may have been, Stacy objected saying it would be speculation. Smith overruled that objection.
Altman was allowed to say there was “a potential” as many as 270 people who should have voted in that race were not given the proper ballots.
Moran also questioned Altman about who may be to blame for the ballot problems.
Smith interjected saying the reason has not been determined.
“It’s like magic. There is no answer,” responded Moran.
“How it happened has nothing to do with whether we will uphold Mrs. Cribb’s request,” Smith replied.
When being questioned by Stacy, Altman said he was at each polling place for only about 15 minutes at a time.
Moran said if the board feels at least 21 voters were not given the proper ballots, then a new election should be ordered.
After hearing the testimony, the board went into executive session for about 10 minutes and then began deliberating.
Board member Richard Butts said he heard “more than enough” from Altman to decide there should be a new election.
Board member Joyce Gunter agreed, saying Altman was “unable to say for sure” the problem did not impact the outcome.
“We did not get facts. We do know the race was flawed. We need a new election to satisfy Joyce,” she said.
Smith said it’s “troublesome” that there was a problem that could have possibly impacted 270 voters.
Bill Thompson, the only board member to vote “no” for a new election, said he did not hear anything that makes him believe a new election is needed.
After the 8-1 vote, Cribb said she feels “justice has been served.”
Kerr said he has not decided if he will appeal to the State Board of Elections. He has until noon Monday to make the decision.
Donna Mahn, director of county elections, said if Kerr does not appeal she is unsure when a new election will be held.
By Scott Harper
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