NEWBERRY — The race for Newberry County Council District 5 had such a close vote that the Newberry County Voter Registration and Election Board was required to conduct a mandatory recount.
Incumbent Les Hipp was challenged by Harriett Rucker and the recount confirmed the outcome from the election last Tuesday: Rucker won with 1,080 votes over Hipp’s 1,064.
“The findings that were received after the recount were the same as the results from earlier in the day when the Failsafe and Provisional votes were counted and added into the totals from Tuesday,” said Samuel Price Jr., chairman of the board.
“I’m very happy that the results are now final and I look forward to serving the people of District 5 and Newberry. My term won’t begin until January, so I’ll have plenty of time to prepare and to get a little rest before I start serving,” Rucker said.
Hipp said he plans to look at the absentee ballots and the corresponding envelopes to confirm the integrity of the process.
“There is still a protest period until Wednesday at noon,” he said. “I have been told by some people that there were some irregularities that I will check into, and will have a decision by Wednesday at noon, as to whether or not I will protest those irregularities.
“If no procedural discrepancies are noted then there will be no additional action on my part,” he added. “The current electoral process allows for this and encourages this, to verify the integrity and fairness of an election to all concerned.”
Board members also reviewed the Provisional ballots, beginning with military or those protected under certain laws who had until Friday to turn their ballots in. These votes were not challenged and were transferred and added with the other votes before the final count.
Three of the Provisional ballots were from voters registered in different counties who refused to vote at their own polling location and refused to vote at the Voter’s Registration Office. The votes were challenged by administration because they were not registered to vote in Newberry County.
Price motioned for those votes to be rejected. Board member Brenda Fulmer seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.
Four Provisional ballots were turned in as paper ballots as a result of difficulty finding the voter due to spelling errors within the laptop. These ballots were from registered voters and were determined to be valid votes.
Price made a motion to accept the votes and it passed unanimously.
One paper ballot without an envelope and a sealed Failsafe paper ballot with inadequate information was received. Fulmer made a motion that neither of these votes be counted and Summer seconded the motion. That motion also passed unanimously.
Two Failsafe ballots were received. On the first Failsafe ballot, the voter was in the wrong precinct and refused to go to the correct precinct because of time. Voters are required to go to the precinct where they are registered or to go to the Voter’s Registration Office.
Summer made a motion that the vote not count because the voter did not follow protocol. Simpson seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.
In the second Failsafe ballot, the voter registered on the day of the election. Voters are required to register at least 30 days prior to the election in which they want to vote. This voter registered through DSS then failed to turn the application in.
“Since the voter didn’t follow the proper protocol to become a registered voter, I don’t think that we should accept this vote,” Fulmer said.
Seven Failsafe ballots regarding updated address changes, photo identification, registration through the DMV and archive searches were received. All seven were accepted by the board.
A motion was made and accepted by the board that certified the 2016 election results.
Also certified was the One Cent Sales Tax from the Commissioners of Registration and Election, regarding the projects that the money will be going to. The motion to certify the One Cent Sales Tax was passed by all board members.
Reach Kelly Duncan at 803-768-3123 ext. 1868 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.