Circuit Court Judge Larry Hyman will issue a decision today which will determine if there will be a runoff between Gloria Tinubu and Preston Brittain for the nomination in the District 7 Congressional race.
“I promise you I will rule on this at least by noon tomorrow,” Judge Hyman said at the conclusion of Thursday’s hearing.
At issue is whether the votes cast for Ted Vick in June 12th’s Primary should be counted.
Vick dropped out of the race after being arrested for drunken driving.
State election officials said it was too late to remove his name from the ballot and he received about 2,300 votes.
Last week, the South Carolina Election Commission ruled the votes cast for Vick should not have been counted. That ruling resulted in Tinubu receiving more than 50 percent of the votes and she was declared the winner without a runoff.
A lawsuit was filed by Conway attorney Morgan Martin on behalf of Donnie McBride and Vincent Masterpaul who contend the votes for Vick should be counted which would drop Tinubu’s total to less than 50 percent, forcing a runoff.
Hearing the case
Thursday’s hearing began with attorney Elizabeth Crum, representing the South Carolina Election Commission, asking for the suit to be dismissed.
She said the court does not have jurisdiction in the case and that no proof has been submitted showing two plaintiffs live in the district or are registered to vote.
Judge Hyman said he was hoping to avoid having to hear the case himself but it is a matter that must be decided by the courts. He said his court does have jurisdiction and denied the motion to dismiss.
Masterpaul who lives in Myrtle Beach testified he voted in the Democrat Primary and filed the suit because “a vote cast is supposed to be a vote counted.”
He said since Ted Vick’s name was still on the ballot, votes cast for him should be counted.
Masterpaul said there were no signs in polling places indicating votes for Vick would not count.
“The committee’s decision to toss the votes is saying we do not have a voice,” Masterpaul said.
Martin said the lawsuit is not protesting the outcome of the election.
“We are protesting the manner in which the election was conducted.,” he said. “Let there be a runoff.”
No matter how Judge Hyman rules today, there still may be no runoff in the Democratic Primary Tuesday.
That’s because Hyman expects his ruling to be appealed by the side that does not win.
“I will say whichever side came to court first was entitled. This goes to the very heart of voter confidence which is at an all-time low right now,” the judge said. “I am not so naive that I think my ruling will be the final word. I expect an appeal.”
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