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Two Jasper County Council incumbents file protests

RIDGELAND: Clark, Malphrus want Democrats to call new elections.

By Mark Kreuzwieser Carolina Morning News, June 15, 2004

Two Jasper County Council incumbents who lost their re-election bids in last week's primary have filed protests with the county Democratic Party.

Councilwoman Barbara Clark and Vice Chairman Paul Max Malphrus have asked for new elections, party chairman Arthur Murphy said Monday. The deadline for filing protests was noon.

Also, Curtis Brantley, who lost in his challenge of incumbent state House District 122 Rep. R. Thayer Rivers, has filed a protest with the state Democratic Party. He filed with the state party because the House district includes all of Jasper County and parts of Hampton and Beaufort counties.

"Miss Clark is protesting the entire election ... and Paul Max Malphrus is protesting just his race," Murphy said.

LeRoy Blackshear defeated Clark by a certified count of 2,168 votes to 1,450 votes.

Fred Tuten beat Malphrus in the certified count by 2,136 votes to 1,595 votes.

Clark requested that the entire June 8 Democratic primary be held again because some voters left the Levy precinct polling place without voting, and because the county's electronic voting machines were not operating during the primary in several precincts, including Tillman, Pineland, Grahamville 2 and Hardeeville 1 and 2.

Malphrus wants his June 8 primary race held again based upon returns from the Ridgeland 1 precinct. That precinct gave Tuten 395 ballots, and Malphrus 126.

Members of the Jasper Democratic Party executive committee meet at 7 p.m. Thursday to consider Clark's and Malphrus' protests. The meeting will be in the Jasper County Mary G. Ellis Executive Building's County Council chambers.

If the committee rules against the protests, candidates have until 3 p.m. Friday to appeal to the state Democratic Party executive committee, which will hear protest appeals no later than noon Saturday.

Jasper's elections grabbed some national and regional attention, from the manufacturer of the county's electronic voting machines to the Verified Voting Foundation, which according to its Internet site, www.verifiedvoting.org, "champion(s) reliable and publicly verifiable elections in the United States."

Jasper County purchased 50 new MicroVote machines in 2002 for $3,500 each.

Marvin McFadyen of MicroVote in Cary, N.C., said Friday that no problems were reported Tuesday at any of the 14 other South Carolina counties that use MicroVote machines.

"There was no problem with Jasper's machines," he said. "It was operator error."

For example, McFadyen said, poll workers were calling the voter registration office reporting that machines were without power.

"The machines go into a sleep mode" when they're not being operated, he said. "It's a simple power-up procedure" to put the machines back in operating mode, similar to a personal computer.

In the other County Council race, incumbent Gladys Jones and Samuel Gregory will be in a runoff on June 22 for the at-large council seat. Jones received a certified 1,661 votes to Gregory's 1,470 votes. Because a third candidate was in the race, D.P. Lowther, and neither Jones nor Gregory received 50 percent plus one vote, they must return for the runoff. Lowther received a certified 951 votes.

Protest hearings

Members of the Jasper Democratic Party executive committee meet at 7 p.m. Thursday to consider Barbara Clark's and Paul Max Malphrus' protests of the June 8 primary. The meeting will be in the Jasper County Mary G. Ellis Executive Building's County Council chambers.

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