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Politics: Candidate can’t count on votes from some neighbors

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Some of Bob Anderson’s neighbors in Heritage Plantation won’t be able to vote for him in the June primary. He learned last week that County Council District 6, where he was elected in 2010, doesn’t include all of the gated community.

“Somehow the lines got moved,” he told fellow Republicans this week. “It’s not helping me at all.”

GOP officials estimate about 80 voters are affected. The number represents 5 percent of votes cast in the 2010 primary, when Anderson won the seat in a race with Barry McCall, a former magistrate. Anderson had a margin of 191 votes.

Georgetown County Council adopted new districts in 2011 based on the results of the 2010 census. Anderson said his goal in the redistricting was to keep Heritage Plantation within District 6. Instead, an area on the southern end of the community is part of District 2.

The change first came to light last week when the county elections office sent new voter registration cards to Jim Jerow, the former county GOP chairman, and his wife Joyce. They live in Heritage Plantation and support Anderson, who also lives in the neighborhood.

Jim Jerow saw he was now in Council District 2, represented by Ron Charlton. He called the county Board of Elections and was told the change in the lines was due to census tracts.

Donna Mahn, the county director of Elections and Voter Registration, said new cards went out to about 20 voters in District 6 as a result of her office checking addresses against the election district maps. It’s a process she started after the 2012 election in School Board District 6 in which the result was challenged because some voters in Murrells Inlet received the wrong ballot. School board and County Council districts follow the same lines.

Mahn said she tries to do quarterly address corrections. “I’m bound to make sure people are in the right district,” she said.

Mahn’s office wasn’t involved in redrawing the election districts. The lines were created by County Council with help from the state Office of Research and Statistics. They were also approved by the U.S. Department of Justice under the Voting Rights Act.

Anderson said County Council could change the district lines, but it would take three readings. “If I win, there would be a lawsuit,” he said.

Anderson faces a challenge in the June 10 GOP primary from Steve Goggans.

Changing the district would make sense, Mahn said. The current District 6 lines don’t follow the precinct lines for Pawleys Island 5, which also include Heritage Plantation. The split precinct means voters get different ballots, something the county Election Commission has worked to avoid. The problems in the 2012 school board election were the result Murrells Inlet 2 being part of two districts.

“A precinct line to me is like a community. “If you can keep it intact, the better off you’re going to be,” Mahn said.

Correction: This version has been changed from the print version to correct the district represented by Council Member Ron Charlton. It is District 2, not District 3.

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