By Paul Gable
Mark Lazarus sent a letter to South Carolina Election Commission Executive Director Howard Knapp last week expressing dissatisfaction with the explanation the commission gave to Horry County Council for the mishandling of approximately 1,400 ballots in the June 2022 primary runoff elections.
The letter included the following statements, “I am disappointed in the state election commission’s refusal to ensure this election be conducted in a fair and competent manner, or to offer any remedy to legitimize this election that was tainted by a failed absentee ballot outcome…The Election Commission claims in their response such an error is “unacceptable,” and yet the commission deems as acceptable the skewed election results it produced?”
“Now that the state election commission has admitted the mishandling of 1,400 Republican ballots in the Horry County Council chairman’s race that was determined by about 250 votes, what will be done to remedy this election and determine who really won…I look forward to your response in how this situation can be remedied, and the 1,400 absentee voters’ rights and votes are restored to this race.”
The first thing that must be stated is Johnny Gardner won the election. There is no question of that fact. The wrong ballots were initially mailed to approximately 1,400 Republican voters. However, there is nothing on record to indicate even one vote cast, as stipulated in state law, was not counted. There are no remedies necessary nor 1,400 missing votes to be restored!
Lazarus initially intended to protest the results of the election, a venue in which he may have been able to address some of the points he voiced in his letter. Lazarus hired Butch Bowers, the attorney for the South Carolina Republican Party for the past 20 years according to Bowers’ own statements.
However, Bowers, the self-proclaimed election attorney guru, filed the Lazarus’ election protest one day late. The S.C. Election Commission website clearly stated the deadline for protests to be filed for primary runoff elections was noon Monday July 4, 2022. The election protest notice filed by Bowers was electronically recorded Tuesday July 5, 2022 at 8:35 a.m.
During a hearing by the Horry County Republican Party Executive Committee, Bowers did his best to convince committee members that July 4 really meant July 5 and Monday really meant Tuesday. He failed. There was no protest to be heard because the protest was filed after the required deadline, as correctly voted (40-5) by the Horry County Republican Party Executive Committee members at the duly called meeting of July 7, 2022.
The entire protest episode can be summed up as Lazarus’ protest was a day late and he is $7,500 short (the amount he paid Bowers to handle the protest).
Lazarus seems to be still hurting from the fact that Gardner defeated him in two consecutive primary elections for the Republican nomination for Chairman of Horry County Council, and, apparently, unwilling to accept those losses. IT’s time he got over those losses and moved on!