BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WSAV) — Beaufort County was the last to finish reporting results for Tuesday’s primary, sharing the unofficial results just before 1 a.m. on Wednesday.
The Beaufort County Voter Registration and Elections Office said the delay was due to having to resolve a redistricting error that left multiple candidates off the ballot in six precincts.
Last week, News 3 told you Beaufort County Council candidate Mike Covert went to vote early, but his race was not on the ballot. Redistricting moved Covert’s home from District 6 to 7, where he was running for council.
According to the elections office, this was the case on about 70 ballots in six precincts primarily in Sun City, Hilton Head and Bluffton. After the ballots were corrected before Election Day, the director of voter registration and elections apologized for the mistake — but said the office couldn’t do anything about the people that already voted.
“Whether it’s 70 people or 7,070 people there are people who didn’t get to do their constitutional duty of voting,” Covert said. “Is that right, is that something that the GOP Party in Beaufort County is going to rest their sword on, die on that sword of ‘well, they didn’t get to vote, oh well.’”
Covert and District 9 candidate Shelley Hughes filed a temporary restraining order on Friday to try to stop voting in their districts because their names weren’t on the ballot. Both candidates lost their races, according to the unofficial results, but said they still want answers for those 70 voters who got an incorrect ballot.
“The results were not close enough for me to challenge the ballots,” Hughes told News 3 in a statement. “But, I have made appropriate calls and e-mails on all issues that were reported to me by voters. I hope that these issues will be handled accordingly.”
“The point is one voice, one vote,” Covert said. “People are upset. They’re very concerned that you know people didn’t get to vote, people are upset that the candidate is the one that had to find it on my own ballot, you know it took until wee hours of the morning on a primary race for numbers to come in.”
The Chair of the Beaufort County Republican Party is also calling on the board of elections to to find a solution for those 70 voters.
“We MUST find a solution to this ASAP or we are throwing out the window the 246 year practice of ‘Every Vote Must Count,’ chairman Kevin Hennelly wrote in a Facebook post. “We cannot accept that with todays technology we cannot solve this problem in one hour.”
Beaufort County will have its canvass hearing on Thursday at 10 a.m. to certify the unofficial results from Tuesday’s primary. As of Wednesday, there has yet to be a hearing in response to the legal action filed.