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Election 2012: New vote ordered in School Board District 6

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Georgetown County School Board candidates Peggy Wheeler-Cribb and Richard Kerr are preparing to campaign again for the District 6 seat after the results of the Nov. 6 election were thrown out Monday.

The Georgetown County Board of Elections and Registration voted to uphold a protest by Wheeler-Cribb and ordered a new election Monday.

“Justice was done,” said Wheeler-Cribb after the board voted 8-1 in her favor. Kerr was certified as the winner of the race by 22 votes last week.

Board member Billy Altman testified that some voters in the Murrells Inlet 2 precinct were given the wrong school board ballot. “I live in that precinct,” he said, “and some of my neighbors were getting a different ballot than I got,” he said.

Bob Moran, attorney for Wheeler-Cribb, asked Altman if anybody knew how many incorrect ballots were issued.

No, he answered.

Moran reminded him that he had reported to the board last week that as many as 240 voters may have been given a District 1 school board ballot even though they live in District 6. Altman said that he counted 270 voters who could have received the wrong ballot and that 30 or 40 were corrected by poll workers.

“We know there was a mistake,” Moran said during his summation. “We’re not here to force any agenda on anybody. Through no fault of anybody, voters were given the wrong ballot. There is no magic formula to order a new election. You don’t have any choice.”

Board members praised Altman for bringing the ballot error to light. Chairman Dean Smith called his efforts “heroic.”

The ballot confusion springs from the fact that Murrells Inlet 2 was divided between Districts 1 and 6 after the 2010 Census.

Kerr’s lawyer, Dan Stacy Jr., said there is a presumption in South Carolina that a declared winner will be upheld except in extreme circumstances.

He called poll clerk Charles Craddock as a witness who said he made “quite a few calls” to election headquarters to verify voters’ ballots in the school board race.

Stacy asked Craddock if he could say with certainty that every voter got the correct ballot.

“I have no idea,” Craddock said.

“There was no definitive testimony that anybody got the wrong ballot,” Stacy said.

Kerr said he was disappointed with the board’s decision. “I thought I fairly won the election,” he said. “There was no proof that voters were disenfranchised.”

Kerr said he had not decided whether to appeal the board’s decision to the state Election Commission. He has until next Monday at noon to file.

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