7th District Dem primary to be on trial Thursday

June 20, 2012 

Conway attorney Morgan Martin and the S.C. State Election Commission will slug it out in a Georgetown courtroom Thursday morning with the future of the 7th District Democratic primary in the balance.

If Judge Larry Hyman rules for Martin, it will mean there will be a runoff in the primary between candidate Gloria Tinubu, who Election Commission says won the June 12 vote, and Preston Brittain, the runner-up.

“The state won’t appeal,” Marci Andino, executive director of the Election Commission, said late Wednesday afternoon.

If Hyman favors the Election Commission, Martin presumably could appeal, but he did not return calls seeking comment.

Martin’s lawsuit maintains the Election Commission erred when it did not include votes cast for withdrawn candidate Ted Vick in the total vote to determine a winner. If those approximately 2,300 votes had been included, Tinubu’s 52 percent take of the total would have shrunk to 48 percent and a runoff would be requited. Brittain got about 39 percent of the June 12 vote, and the addition of Vick’s ballots would mean his percentage of the total would shrink as well.

Hyman issued a temporary restraining order on the Election Commission preparing for any 7th District vote, a step that has affected Tuesday’s 7th District Republican runoff between Andre Bauer and Tom Rice.

Andino said because of the restraining order, local election offices have not been able to distribute absentee ballots to voters who wanted to participate in the Republican runoff but who would not be in town to do so. She said further that the order has prevented election offices from delivering voting machines to polling places and setting them up.

Should a Democratic runoff be the result of Thursday’s hearing, Andino said it likely can be held Tuesday from a logistical standpoint.

She said the state has the databases necessary for a Democratic runoff and local election offices are as prepared as possible because of the Republican runoff.

“We will move forward accordingly,” she said.

Andino said she wasn’t caught off balance by the Supreme Court’s denial of an emergency petition the Election Commission filed seeking a lifting of the restraining order and dismissal of the lawsuit.

“I don’t know if surprised was the right word,” she said of her reaction upon hearing Wednesday’s ruling. “I certainly hoped it would go otherwise.”

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.

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