County again sees election results contested
RIDGELAND, S.C. - A series of problems could lead to a do-over in the Jasper County Democratic primary.
The county and state parties will decide Thursday whether to hold another vote after a litany of complaints, including questionable tallies and 280 absentee ballots thrown out by the Jasper County Election Commission for failing to have proper paperwork.
Jasper County Council members Barbara Clark and Paul Max Malphrus, both unseated in the June 8 primary, have complained to the county party and a complaint has been sent to the state party in the race for the House seat that represents the county. Incumbent Rep. Thayer Rivers beat challenger Curtis Brantley by 393 in the House race.
Brantley's complaint says the ballot included the name of a candidate who had ped out weeks earlier and that the local election commission failed to count hundreds of absentee votes, said Michelle Macrina, acting executive director for the state Democratic Party.
Brantley wants the party to hold another primary for the seat. The state party will meet Thursday in Columbia.
In the Jasper County Council race, Clark lost her seat to LeRoy Blackshear who got 718 more votes. Malphrus lost his council race by 541 votes.
In her protest, Clark said the electronic voting machines used for the primary weren't working correctly, said Arthur Murphy, chairman of the county's Democratic Party. "It's going to be up to her to prove whether (the machines) were working or not," he said.
Some problems with machines were reported by some poll managers, said Cathy Morgan, the county's director of elections and voter registration. But, she said, those were all "human error. The machines worked fine."
Malphrus complained that one precinct's totals show 100 fewer ballots than he says there should have been.
Jasper County has had many voting problems in recent years, including accusations of voter fraud in the 1998 general election that caused the State Law Enforcement Division to confiscate absentee ballots until results were reaffirmed by a Circuit Court judge.
Following the 2000 presidential election, a Harvard University study said Jasper's results were the worst in the nation. One precinct's results showed that all but two votes went to third-party candidates, according to the study.