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Election 2012: State will hear appeal of District 6 vote

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

The S.C. Election Commission will hear Richard Kerr’s appeal of a ruling calling for a new election in Georgetown County School District 6 next week.

Kerr, who was declared the winner over Peggy Wheeler-Cribb by 22 votes in the Nov. 6 election, decided to appeal a decision by the Georgetown County Board of Elections and Registration to hold a new election.

Wheeler-Cribb protested the result of the election after board member Billy Altman said an estimated 240 voters in the Murrells Inlet 2 precinct may have been given the wrong school board ballot.

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

“After consultation with my family, friends and legal counsel I respectively disagree with the decision of the Georgetown County Election Commission Board to order a new election for the District 6 School Board seat,” Kerr said in a statement Monday. “Based on the testimony presented at the hearing on Nov. 19, 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.”

The commission will hear the appeal at noon on Tuesday.

Bob Moran, Wheeler-Cribb’s lawyer, said this will be his first appearance before the election commission and is not sure what to expect.

“It seems as though this thing is a hearing on the record,” Moran said.

The Georgetown County Board of Elections and Registration conducted a hearing last week, interviewing witnesses and voting to conduct a new election for the school board seat. The transcript of that hearing will be reviewed during Tuesday’s hearing in Columbia.

Moran could not get either Altman or poll clerk Charles Craddock, another witness, to say if anybody knew how many incorrect ballots were issued during the hearing at the old Georgetown Courthouse.

Dan Stacy, Kerr’s lawyer, said there is a presumption in South Carolina that a declared winner will be upheld except in extreme circumstances. He said there was no definitive testimony during the hearing that anybody got the wrong ballot.

Stacy said the commission could ask for a completely new hearing and reschedule it, but he expects a “de novo” hearing using the transcript and hearing from each of the parties involved.

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