MYRTLE BEACH — The Horry County Election Commission has ordered a recount Thursday between County Council chairman candidates Al Allen and Debbie Harwell to see which one will face Mark Lazarus in the March 26 runoff election.
A certification hearing is set for Thursday at 10 a.m. at the county’s voter registration building at 1515 Fourth Ave., in Conway. After, the county election commission will recess the meeting to allow staff to start the recount, according to a press release.
The commission will reconvene and certify the recount and order the runoff election.
According to unofficial results, Lazarus was in first place with 41 percent of the vote. However, a runoff is needed if a candidate doesn’t receive over 50 percent of the total vote. The top two vote-getters will take part in that election.
Allen and Harwell were in a close race for second place Tuesday night, with Allen having the advantage. Unofficial results have 116 votes separating the two, which accounts for a difference of less than 1 percent. He had roughly 24.5 percent of the total vote, while she had around 24 percent.
The race for second place was a close one throughout the night Tuesday as more returns kept coming in. Allen always had the lead, but Harwell kept nipping at his heels. At one point, there were only 45 votes separating the two.
Fellow candidates Liz Gilland was in fourth place with 9 percent of the vote, while Fonzie Lewis had 2 percent.
On Wednesday, Allen said he’s not expecting any changes once the recount is over.
“It’s just checks and balances,” he said. “Pretty much everything kind of flowed as we projected.”
A message left Wednesday for Harwell was not returned before press time.
Tuesday’s primary had under 14,000 ballots cast, less than 10 percent of the total number of registered voters in Horry County.
Allen, a resident of Aynor, had his strongest showing in the western and agricultural areas of Horry County, while Myrtle Beach resident Lazarus performed better closer to the ocean.
Tuesday was also the first time in S.C. that the new voter photo ID law was utilized, which requires voters to show a picture identification before casting a ballot.
Sandy Martin, director of Horry County Voter Registration, said there were no issues reported regarding the new law.
“Only five people didn’t have the proper ID,” she said.
After Thursday’s certification and recount, the road leads to March 26. Just like in Tuesday’s primary, all registered voters are able to vote in the runoff, said Martin.
Allen said his volunteer campaigners are “re-energized” and ready to push on through.
Lazarus plans to continue discussing economic growth, job creation, employee morale and lower crime rates with area residents.
An April 30 general election is scheduled, although the winner of the runoff seems likely to be the next chairman since all the candidates are Republicans.
That winner will fill the term vacated by former Horry County Council chairman Tom Rice following his election to the U.S. Congress to represent the 7th Congressional District.
That term expires in 2014.
Contact BRAD DICKERSON at 626-0301 or follow him at Twitter.com/TSN_bdickerson.