It will now be up to the state to decide whether there will be a new election in the race for the Georgetown County School Board District 6 seat.
Until the issue is settled, Teresa Bennani will retain the seat. She has held the post since 2008 but decided she would not seek a second term.
Last week, the Georgetown County Board of Elections ruled there should be a new election between Richard Kerr and Peggy Wheeler-Cribb because of problems at the polls on Election Day.
When the votes were recounted last week, Cribb lost by 21 votes.
Kerr said after consulting with his attorney as well as with family and friends, he has decided he will appeal the local board’s decision to the state.
“I respectively disagree with the decision of the Georgetown County Election Commission Board to order a new election,” Kerr wrote in a statement released Monday.
He said based on testimony at a protest hearing last week, “there was no evidence or proof of incorrect ballots being cast and no witnesses presented by Ms. Wheeler-Cribb to substantiate any errors. With only opinions being expressed and no facts presented I feel I must appeal the decision to the State Election Commission for review.”
No date has been set for the hearing which will take place in Columbia but Christopher Whitmire of the SEC says it will likely take place next week.
Whitmire said no new testimony is expected to be allowed at the hearing. The panel will make its decision by studying the transcript from last week’s session to determine if the local board was correct in ordering a new election.
At issue is the possibility that as many as 270 voters were given the wrong ballot and therefore may not have had the chance to vote in the race.
During last week’s hearing, the main witness was Elections Board member Billy Altman who both testified and was able to vote on whether a new vote would be granted. Altman said he was in charge of overseeing the precincts in Murrells Inlet on Election Day. He said he began to notice some of his neighbors were receiving different ballots than he received.
He said there was “a potential” as many as 270 people who should have voted in that race were not given the proper ballots.
District Superintendent Dr. Randy Dozier said the board received a legal opinion and Bennani can serve until an election is held. He said it is important that that area of the county continue to have representation.
By Scott Harper
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