It appears the Aiken County treasurer’s race will be decided today.
A winner may be announced because the county Registration and Elections Commission is required to transmit certified election results to the S.C. Election Commission today, and there is no way around that, according to Cynthia Holland, Registration and Elections executive director.
Workers continued counting until midnight Friday, but election officials conceded they would have to continue counting today to meet the 5 p.m. submission deadline.
The process moved more quickly after Aiken County IT got an audit program up and running towards the end of the business day that generated 57 pages showing how many votes each candidate received. However, the program did not count name misspellings towards a candidate’s final total so workers have to go through each variation.
Votes in 38 precincts were counted Thursday before the audit program came online. There are 76 voting precincts in Aiken County.
No official numbers have been released. According to the state Election Commission, 16,063 write-in votes were cast for treasurer.
The candidates for treasurer are John Cagle, Debra Folk, Jason Goings, Angela Gunter, Faye Hatcher, Melissa Oremus, Francis Pennington, Robin Saylor, Ed Smith, Sonya Spray and Mike Wheelis.
Two tables of counters were added Thursday. While still hand counting, one person called out the write-in candidates’ names one-by-one as they appeared on the ballot tape, and three other people kept hash marks tallying the votes.
A tape is a printout of tallied votes cast in every precinct. Because each candidate for treasurer was a write-in, a tape shows the total number of write-in votes, but not how many went to which candidate. Then, it lists every single name that was written in as many times as it was written in. For example, if 100 people wrote Ed Smith’s name on the electronic ballot in precinct 17, Ed Smith’s name appears 100 times on the tape.
If the hand-count totals did not match the write-in totals, the tapes were recounted.
Write-in candidates Sonya Spray, Angela Gunter, John Cagle, Melissa Oremus and Jason Goings were keeping their own personal tallies.
Gunter thanked the counters when, after an initial count of a tape, they realized the numbers did not match up. After a recount, they found two votes they had missed, one of which went to Gunter.
“Thank you for taking the time to find it,” Gunter said. “Hallelujah.”