Voters reject Jenkinsville annexation

Turnout was High: 34 of 54 registered voters

JENKINSVILLE – Annexation appears to be off the table in Jenkinsville.

The controversial measure, which would have annexed 143 properties into the town limits, failed by a 19-15 vote, according to unofficial results.

There were 36 ballots cast, but two under-votes – one absentee and one in-person – were discounted, said Debby Stidham, the county’s director of voter registration and election.

Certification of election results is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, June 8 at the Fairfield County Voter Registration and Elections office at 315 S. Congress Street in Winnsboro.

Turnout was comparatively high, with 34 ballots counted out of 54 registered voters.

Only registered voters living in the proposed annexation area were eligible to vote Tuesday. There will be no mandatory recount.

Contested ballots, allegations of voter intimidation and even threats of legal ac tion emerged during the election process, according to observers.

Jenkinsville Mayor Gregrey Ginyard, who supported the ballot question and was present at the polling location Tuesday, said in a brief interview Wednesday that he doesn’t anticipate filing any election protests.

Ginyard also couldn’t say whether or not Jenkinsville Town Council would consider pursuing annexation in a future referendum.

“The outcome of the election is the outcome of the election,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, the people spoke. It is what it is.”

Others in attendance, however, said moments after election results were announced, Ginyard spoke openly about filing a protest and consulting a lawyer.

“He was shocked, upset. He got loud,” said Fairfield County Councilwoman Bertha Goins, who was also present at the polling location and opposed annexation.

“It was unbelievable. He said, ‘I’m going to protest, I’m going to call a lawyer.’ He was beside himself,” Goins added.

The Voice was unable to ask Ginyard about Goins’ remarks because the call ended Wednesday before press time.

Election controversies

Unless a protest is filed, the 19 votes against annexation mean the measure dies. Stidham said according to state law, a majority of votes counted is required for a referendum measure to pass.

In the case of the Jenkinsville vote, the magic number was 18, since 34 votes were counted, Stidham said.

Tuesday’s election didn’t come without controversy. Several sources confirm at least one ineligible voter, who didn’t live in the proposed annexation area, cast a ballot. It’s unclear how that person voted.

In addition, Ginyard spent most of the day at the polling location.

At times, the mayor called voters over so he could speak with him before they could sign in with poll workers, Goins and Stidham said.

State law prohibits public officials from campaigning inside a polling location, but the law does permit officials to have casual conversations. It’s unclear what Ginyard discussed with the voters.

A state election official said Ginyard calling out to voters before registering would be questionable.

“That certainly would not look good and could be construed as campaigning, interfering, or intimidating voters,” said Chris Whitmire, spokesman with the S.C. Election Commission.

“In that case, the managers could ask him to stop that activity or leave the polling place,” Whitmire said.

Stidham said she spoke to Ginyard about calling out to voters. She also said at least one voter telephoned her office to complain about the activity.

“I just asked him to let people come into the precinct,” she said. “He was telling them if they could or could not vote.”

Goins said she was angered by the mayor’s conversations with voters.

“He was on the side and he would call them over to the area before they came in to vote,” she said. “It was not professional and it was not right.”

There were also reports of Ginyard jokingly asking poll workers to count the ballots quickly.

If the results are challenged, Goins said she’d file a counter-challenge.

Contested ballots?

Goins and Stidham both said Ginyard did verbally dispute a vote cast by a woman living outside of the proposed annexation area.

Stidham said the woman’s name appeared on a voting list, but it shouldn’t have been there. She didn’t know how the woman was able to vote.

Ginyard, observers say, claimed the woman voted against annexation because she sent him a letter stating that was her intention.

Stidham said strictly looking at ballots, there’s no way to know how any person voted.

There was no mistaking Ginyard’s reaction to the vote, with Stidham and Goins saying he was shocked. Stidham said Ginyard raised the issue about the woman’s address.

“The mayor was standing there saying she shouldn’t be allowed to vote, but he didn’t challenge the ballot,” Stidham said.

Stidham added that she doesn’t know whether any formal election protests will be filed. Any protests must be filed by noon Monday, June 11, she said.

Goins said she was thankful the measure failed.

“Thank God and thank the people,” she said. “I thank them for responding the way they did, for stepping up to the plate and did what needs to be done for the good of the community. It makes me very proud to be a representative in this area.”