A judge did not make a decision Wednesday regarding what to with county-owned voting machines Atlantic Beach wants back in order to conduct an investigation. Horry County Magistrate Brad Mayers decided to take the whole case under advisement, asking both parties come to an agreement. If an agreement can’t be reached, they will go to court again.
Horry County sheriff’s deputies served a court order on Atlantic Beach Dec. 13 and seized the voting machines from the town’s evidence room. Town leaders were holding them there as evidence of fraud and irregularities that they say occurred on the Nov. 1 municipal election. Those leaders now argue that the seizure of the machines has caused an unnecessary delay in their investigation.
Town council member Carolyn Cole suggested after the hearing Wednesday that Atlantic Beach’s voting machine incident may play a bigger role. “There are problems with these machines,” Cole said. “We’re coming up on presidential elections and primaries and voters in this state and this county deserve to know where we stand with these machines.”
Horry County however, remains puzzled by the town’s argument. “We’ve heard all kinds of antics about the machines and the flaws but there has been no evidence given to us about those machines being flawed,” county spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said.
Horry County’s attorney Arrigo Carotti also pointed out that Atlantic Beach has yet to file a formal election protest. He was ready to provide testimony from the clerk of court to show that no such documents were filed with her office.
Atlantic Beach responded to the county’s claim that there is no election protest and therefore no reason for the town to keep the machines. Attorney Kenneth Davis said the town’s municipal election commission is working on a transcript with its attorney and hopes to submit a report to the circuit court at some point.
“Those on the municipal election commission have rules they must follow, they have guidelines that govern them and so really no one should be interfering,” Atlantic Beach Mayor Retha Pierce said.
Another Atlantic Beach council member Jake Evans thinks this is all just a tactic to delay and keep the winners of the last election out and the losers in power.