Lazarus files appeal to South Carolina GOP in Horry County Council Chairman race

Published: Jul. 8, 2022 at 5:48 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 8, 2022 at 5:50 PM EDT

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - A day after the Horry County GOP voted to deny an appeal contesting the results of the election for Horry County Council Chairman, the issue is now being taken to the state level.

The South Carolina GOP said Mark Lazarus, who narrowly lost to incumbent Johnny Gardner in the June 28 runoff, filed an appeal with the party Friday. A hearing of the SCGOP’s Executive Committee is scheduled to take place in Columbia on July 14.

The hearing is required by state law.

In his appeal to the county, Lazarus asked all absentee ballots be counted after the county mistakenly sent nearly 1,400 Democrat absentee ballots to Republican voters shortly before the runoff 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.

Per the statute, however, the deadline to file an appeal was on Monday - which was also July 4.

The motion was denied and the case was thrown out.

The Horry County Board of Voter Registration and Elections said 1,377 Democratic absentee ballots were accidentally sent to Republican voters prior to the June 28 runoff. 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.

“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.”

Gardner said after Thursday’s hearing that he was “ready to move forward” following the county party’s decision.

Horry County Republican Party Chairman Robert Slagle also 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.

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