District 3 Race Sparks Protest

Commission Certifies Results

Challenger Questions Ballots

WINNSBORO – Friday’s recount in the race for the District 3 County Council seat unearthed one additional vote for challenger Walter Larry Stewart’s bid to unseat incumbent Mikel Trapp. The absentee ballot raised Stewart’s total to 485 votes – still 4 votes shy of Trapp’s 489 total from election night.

But members of Stewart’s campaign, combing over absentee envelopes at the Fairfield County Voter Registration office Friday, found enough discrepancies to prompt further research. The Stewart camp obtained through the S.C. Freedom of Information Act a laundry lists of information from the elections office, including a complete list of voters, precinct breakdowns and copies of the write-in votes and the optical scans. After reviewing material virtually non-stop Monday and Tuesday, Debra Matthews, a Winnsboro attorney representing the Stewart campaign, announced Tuesday evening that Stewart planned to file an official protest of the results with the Fairfield County Election Commission.

The deadline to file such a protest was Wednesday at noon. A date for hearing the protest had not been confirmed at press time.

“We have some absentee ballots that do not conform to the state statute,” Matthews said Tuesday night, “and we found three voters who were given the wrong ballot style at their polling place, so they did not have the opportunity to vote for their County Council member.”

A pair of eyewitness accounts were reported to The Voice newspaper on election day of voters also being given the wrong ballot style at their polling places in districts 2 and 5.

The Fairfield County Election Commission certified the Nov. 4 results following the recount last Friday afternoon, but an examination of the envelopes containing the absentee ballots by the Commission did not occur. State law requires voters to sign and date an oath, printed on the outside of the envelope containing the absentee ballot. The oath must also bear the signature and address of a witness.

Of the 12 absentee ballots recounted by the Commission Friday, three envelopes contained questionable information. One oath was not dated, while two others had missing or incomplete addresses for the witnesses.

Matthews said the Stewart camp plans also to examine the list of voters to cross-check names with a list of convicted felons as well as the recently deceased.

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