If S.C. Democratic Party chairman Dick Harpootlian is right, Republicans won’t be the only ones going back to the polls June 26.
Harpootlian alleged that the S.C. State Ethics Commission miscounted the votes in the 7th District Democratic primary and a proper accounting would require a runoff between candidates Gloria Tinubu of Georgetown and Preston Brittain of Myrtle Beach.
Harpootlian said in a Wednesday morning news release that the Election Commission didn’t include the approximately 2,300 votes for S.C. Rep. Ted Vick when it did the math that resulted in Tinubu with 52.44 percent of the Democratic ballots. Had Vick’s votes been added to the state’s tally of 31,217 votes, then Tinubu’s 16,370 votes wouldn’t have constituted a majority.
Hence, the need for a runoff, Harpootlian maintained.
Vick withdrew from the race after his arrest in Columbia for driving under the influence, but his name remained on the ballot.
Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire did not return phone calls Wednesday morning and afternoon.
Tinubu said her campaign will stand by the tally that shows her the winner until something new comes from the Election Commission.
“(Harpootlian’s) math doesn’t make sense to me,” she said. She did not want to elaborate on the statement.
Tinubu said she is 13 points ahead of Brittain in polls and feels good about the future, whether it includes a runoff or not.
Her campaign sent out a statement later contending the Election Commission complied with state law. She said that it is required to count votes only for candidates, and that Vick was not a candidate.
“To argue that the South Carolina Election Commission should count the votes of someone who wasn’t a candidate in the race is ridiculous,” the statement said.
Brittain’s campaign issued a statement that backed Harpootlian’s accounting.
Both said state law requires that all votes be counted and that the percentage of votes each candidate gets is calculated on the total vote.
As with Harpootlian, the Brittain campaign statement said that not including votes cast for Vick in the overall tally effectively disenfranchised those who voted for him.
“Counting all the votes for each of the candidates that were on Tuesday’s ballot,” the statement said, “no candidate earned 50 percent plus one vote and thus a runoff election is required.”
Tinubu won the vote in five of the eight counties in the 7th District, including Horry, where she claimed more than 60 percent of the vote.
Brittain won the balloting in Chesterfield, Darlington and Dillon counties..
Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.