Two challengers contesting results of a March 19 special election to fill a seat on the Jasper County School Board of Trustees lost their protest Monday before the county's elections board.
Priscilla Green and Pamela Williams, who filed a joint complaint with the Jasper County Board of Elections and Voter Registration, could appeal to the S.C. State Elections Commission.
But for now, Leroy Bentley's election to the District 9 seat representing the Levy area stands.
Bentley received 108 votes; Green received 97, and Williams, a former District 8 representative, got 84 votes, according to official results.
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Green and Williams accuse the elections office of improperly handling absentee votes.
Bentley earned 29 absentee votes; there were two for Green, and none for Williams, according to the Rev. Donald Sheftall Sr., county elections commission chairman.
Green said elections board Vice Chairman James G. Daley broke state law by notifying a resident of the number of absentee ballots that had been cast for Bentley before polls closed. Williams said in a phone interview before Monday's hearing that she got word of the absentee results at about noon on Election Day.
Daley, who recused himself from the hearing at the Jasper County Courthouse, denies that. He said he told someone how many absentee ballots were processed but did not divulge the candidates' vote totals.
"There's nothing wrong with that," said Chris Whitmire, State Election Commission director of public information, of releasing how many ballots were processed. "You can do that at any time -- give pure statistical numbers, ... but results cannot be released until 7 p.m. on Election Day."
Green also said several people with Alzheimer's disease or other mental infirmities voted but should not have been allowed to do so.
State law, however, indicates a person's right to vote cannot be taken away unless the voter is declared mentally incompetent by a judge or asks to be removed from the voter rolls, Whitmire said.
The county elections board determined Green failed to produce evidence or testimony to support her claims.
But Green argued she was unable to provide evidence because she was unaware of the hearing until checking her mail that morning. Williams did not attend the hearing, saying she was never notified.
Both could appeal to the state elections commission. Green said after Monday's proceedings she had not decided what to do.
"This is nothing personal against Mr. Bentley," she said. "We just want the elections in Jasper County ... to be run properly."
State Reps. Bill Bowers, D-Hampton, and Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton, attended the hearing. They are part of the Jasper County Legislative Delegation, which recommends county elections board members to the governor, who makes the appointments.
Herbkersman declined to comment about the board's decision because he does not know enough about Green and William's claim. However, he questioned whether the public was properly notified of the hearing.