Horry County GOP votes to deny Lazarus appeal in Horry County Council Chairman race
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - The Horry County GOP voted Thursday to deny an appeal contesting the results of the election for Horry County Council Chairman.
Mark Lazarus, who narrowly lost to incumbent Johnny Gardner in the June 28 runoff, asked all absentee ballots be counted after the county mistakenly sent Democrat absentee ballots to Republican voters shortly before the election.
The party’s executive committee said during a hearing on Thursday that Lazarus was a day late in filing his appeal, according to a state statute. Lazarus’s campaign stated that he entered his appeal on Tuesday.
The motion was denied and the case was thrown out.
“The case we were presenting today was not about me,” Lazarus told WMBF News after the hearing. “This was about 1,377 votes that were not properly counted and the 1,377 disenfranchised people who didn’t have their voice heard again today.”
- Lazarus appealing to Horry County GOP, asks for all absentee ballots to be counted
- Lazarus asks election board to delay certifying runoff results
- Gardner narrowly defeats Lazarus in runoff, keeps seat as Horry County Council chair
- Printing error causes Horry County Republican voters to receive Democratic absentee ballots
The Horry County Board of Voter Registration and Elections said it 1,932 absentee ballots throughout the county prior to the runoff. However, 1,377 Democratic absentee ballots were accidentally sent to Republican voters.
The county cited an error in the ballot printing and mailing process by a third-party service, Sun Solutions. The cause of how this happened is still under investigation.
Lazarus claims only 140 absentee ballots were received by Tuesday’s deadline to be counted. He also said the Horry County Voter Registration and Elections Board previously denied a request to delay certifying the results of the runoff.
Gardener’s attorney, Jarrett Bouchette, quoted South Carolina State Law statue 7-17-520 and said the appeal should be dismissed for not being filed on time.
“This statue doesn’t say the next Tuesday it says the Monday following and gives no qualifications or other limitations to when it could be applicable,” said Jarrett Bouchette.
The executive committee did acknowledge Monday was a holiday but voted 40-5 to throw out the appeal with two committee members abstaining.
Lazarus said he still believes they filed in a timely manner and will pursue other legal routes.
As for Gardner, he says he’s focused on starting another four year term at chairman of Horry County Council.
“This election should’ve been over when it was counted on June 28th and I hope it is over tonight because we are ready to move forward,” said Gardner.
Horry County Republican Party Chairman Robert Slagle said he believes the committee remained unbiased by listening to both sides and did their best to follow the law the way it is written.
Copyright 2022 WMBF. All rights reserved.