Beaufort News

No election for uncontested Port Royal mayor, council seats

Port Royal voters won't go to the polls this fall to vote for a mayor and two council members because the town isn't having an election.

Mayor Sam Murray, Councilman Joe Lee and council candidate Tom Klein are automatic winners because they were the only candidates who filed for the open seats. No write-in candidates filed by the 4:30 p.m. Friday deadline.

Klein will fill a vacancy left by retiring Councilman Henry Robinson.

Under state law, municipalities are not required to hold an election if only one person files for each open seat and no write-in candidates file declarations of intent within a subsequent 14-day period. The law applies to special and municipal elections.

"The commission does not make up the rules; the state makes up the rules," election commission member Harold Johnson said. "... We cannot have an election because the rules and laws say we cannot have an election."

Although municipalities are not required to hold elections for uncontested races, state law does not say they can't hold them.

Port Royal had no election in 2005 when no seats were contested, Johnson said.

Not having an election could save the town about $6,000, town manager Van Willis said. Roughly 10 percent of the town's voters turn out for municipal elections, he estimated.

Port Royal's election commission previously voted not to hold an election if no write-in candidates filed a declaration of intent, Willis said. An election meeting is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Monday at Town Hall to certify the winners. They will be sworn in during the Dec. 14 council meeting.

Port Royal elections move to November, Oct. 11, 2006