Gardner defeats Lazarus for Horry County Council chairman, certified results show; recount ordered

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Results certified Thursday morning show Republican challenger Johnny Gardner has defeated incumbent Mark Lazarus in the race to become the next chairman of the Horry County Council, according to information from the Horry County Board of Voter Registration and Elections.

Because the margin of victory was less than 1 percent, a recount has been called.

The certified results showed Gardner received 12,358 total votes, while Lazarus procured 12,161 votes.

During the certification hearing, members from both the Horry County Republican and Democratic parties asked the election commission about issues at the polls on Tuesday.

One of the issues they were concerned about was absentee ballots. Those require a third-party signature as a way to help guarantee it isn't fraud. Since some of those ballots did not have a witness signature, they were not counted.

"We get some of those every election. That's why we ask the legislature to take the witness signature off the applications of absentee ballots," said Horry County Elections Director Sandy Martin.

"We were told that the county would be putting stickers on them to remind people that they need to witness them and that did not occur. So we're going to be pushing forward to make sure that does not happen in the next election," said Democratic Party Chair Don Kohn.

Another issue centered around eight voting machines that were not closed out properly.

"Those eight machines all had mechanical difficulties during the election process. Once they were closed out by the election commission staff those few votes were retrieved and added to the vote tallies," said Rep. Alan Clemmons.

Bill Howard is the winner of the District 2 Horry County Council race, defeating Dean Pappas. Howard received 1,381 votes, while Pappas received 1,351.

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