Sadly, the voting process was irreparably compromised recently when more than 1,300 ballots were sent to the wrong group of voters.
On June 28, Mark Lazarus lost a runoff election to Johnny Gardner for the Republican Party’s nomination for chairman of Horry County Council.
Lazarus lost by 260 votes.
Or did he?
It turns out that the Horry County Board of Voter Registration and Elections, using an outsourced company, incorrectly mailed 1,377 absentee ballots to Democratic Party voters instead of to Republican Party voters.
To compound matters, the error was not discovered until the Friday before the election.
Hurriedly, the correct ballots were mailed Saturday, but by then the damage had been done.
Lazarus said only 140 absentee ballots had been returned by the Tuesday deadline. A few more trickled in after the election deadline had passed and were not counted.
Lazarus contested the outcome of the runoff but the Horry County Voter Registration and Elections Board denied his request to delay certifying the results of the chairman’s race.
On Tuesday, Lazarus appealed the election results to the Horry County Republican Party.
If he fails at the local level, he will take his case to the S.C. Republican Party.
In a news release Tuesday, Lazarus said, “If anyone had any doubts that election integrity was not an issue in this country, what happened here in Horry County is a perfect example of what Donald Trump warned us about. Not only am I fighting for the disenfranchised voters in this election, but I will also fight to make sure what happened in this race does not ever occur again in future elections.”
Lazarus would like to see the June 28 runoff results voided and a new runoff election held.
Such a move would be unprecedented for Horry County. However, I cannot see any other remedy for the situation.
The S. C. Election Commission’s slogan is “Every Vote Counts.”
Unfortunately, every vote was not counted in a very close runoff election for council chairman.
The entire election process was tainted by sloppy work by the county’s election commission.
The commission’s assertion that voters received their absentee ballots in time to cast a vote is absurd.
Even if those impacted by the mailing error received their ballot by Fridiay, it’s unlikely many of them had the time to get it in the mail and back to the election commission office by the June 28 deadline.
Lazarus believes a lot of people received a Democratic Party ballot, threw it in the trash, and then never bothered to vote when the correct ballot appeared in their mailbox.
Don’t blame Gardner nor Lazarus for the mistake. The blame should fall of those charged with running a fair election.
And, while it seems harsh to ask Gardner to relinquish a victory he fought hard to win, I believe there is only one way to correct things.
A new runoff election should be held and this time take every precaution taken to assure EVERY vote counts.