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State Democrats deny Jasper protest appeal

RIDGELAND: County Councilwoman Barbara Clark also seeks state investigation.

By Mark Kreuzwieser
Carolina Morning News

State Democratic Party Executive Committee members on Saturday turned down Jasper County Councilwoman Barbara Clark's appeal of the local party's decision not to schedule a new election.

Jasper County's June 8 primary was fumbled, and two candidates, Clark and County Councilman Paul Max Malphrus, protested to the local party committee on Thursday.

A third protest of the Jasper election - by Curtis Brantley over his defeat for the state House District 122 seat - was turned down by state Democrats on Thursday.

The local committee ordered a recount, which at 2:45 a.m. Friday uncovered a 1,500-vote discrepancy in the number of votes apparently cast and the number of voters who actually signed in to vote. Officials say they don't know where the phantom 1,500 votes came from.

Malphrus did not take his protest appeal to the state level.

"The state committee said I did not have witnesses or physical evidence," Clark said Saturday. "But, they made a motion to ask SLED (the State Law Enforcement Division) to come in and do an investigation" of the Jasper election.

"That's what I wanted," Clark said.

A SLED investigation could not be confirmed Saturday. The agency did seize voting machines after a challenged Jasper election several years ago.

The state Democrats "listened to what I said, and they were very upset about the things I brought up," Clark said. "Everything was going fine until the queen of Jasper County got up and started talking. Juanita White had no business standing up and speaking on the behalf of LeRoy Blackshear (who defeated Clark for the council's Hardeeville Township seat) at that hearing."

White, a former state representative and a longtime political activist, had supported Blackshear's campaign to unseat Clark on the County Council.

On June 10, the Jasper County Election Commission certified the results, giving Blackshear 2,168 votes to Clark's 1,450. But this week's recount found that Blackshear actually received 1,511 votes, while Clark really garnered 1,005 votes.

Councilwoman Gladys Jones will face challenger Samuel Gregory in a Democratic runoff for the council's at-large seat.

All Jasper County polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday for voting in runoffs for the Jones-Gregory race and for Republican U.S. Senate candidates David Beasley and Jim DeMint.

Voters again will have to choose in which primary race, Democratic or Republican, they wish to cast ballots.

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