Judge delays decision on Atlantic Beach voting machines

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) An Horry County magistrate judge delayed deciding Wednesday to whom to return voting machines taken by court order last week.

A lawyer for Atlantic Beach argued the forcible seizure of the election equipment was wrongful and the machines were needed by the town as evidence of the contested November election.

County attorneys countered, citing the machines as the county's property which should have been returned a week after the election. County officials say most municipalities that borrow machines return them immediately after the election.

The Atlantic Beach Election Commission voted to invalidate the November election and schedule a new one after claims of voter fraud and malfunctions with voting machines.

Wednesday a judge took the pending decision under advisement and asked lawyers from both sides to come to an agreement. He hopes to keep the proceedings out of the courtroom.

Mayor Retha Pierce told WMBF News taking the machines is keeping the town's election commission from figuring out what went wrong.

"Everything is contrary to state law for there to be an interruption of that task because they are an administrative unit all to themselves," said Pierce.

She's not happy with the judge holding off a decision, but is glad as a result the voting machines will be secure.

Accusations are still flying between Atlantic Beach officials as both former Mayor-elect Jake Evans and Pierce allege the other tampered with the voting machines.

The Atlantic Beach Election Commission said it hopes to get to the bottom of those fraud accusations with the machines in its possession to help them.

"Atlantic Beach is not going to get those voting machines back, which is the right thing to do. I think most of the fraud is being committed by the town," said Evans.

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