Concern about the Burnettown elections held on Tuesday led to a protest hearing held on Friday afternoon.
Mayoral Candidate Henry Carlin filed the protest. He cited issues with some of the machines, voters turned away, an accusation that one of the machines left the polling premises and several other concerns during the meeting that lasted almost two hours. After hearing from a few witnesses, the Elections Commission voted unanimously to uphold the election.
If another election were to be held, it would have cost the Town of Burnettown approximately $2,000, according to Executive Director of Aiken County Registration and Elections Cynthia Holland.
A total of four candidates were running for the mayoral seat including Carlin, James E. McIntosh, Danny Feagin and incumbent C.H. Williams, who won with 48 percent of the vote.
During the hearing, C.H. Williams held up the letter that informed him of the protest, and said it stated that there were witnesses who saw him and a poll worker enter into the back of Town Hall with a portable voting machine. Williams denied that accusation. A witness of that alleged act did not attend the hearing “in fear of retaliation,” Carlin said.
In his opening statement, Carlin said one of his main concerns were that machines were malfunctioning, specifically at the Town Hall. He called a witness, Terrina Harden, who had struggled to cast a vote but she said poll workers informed her that it did go through. McIntosh stated he had to try three times before his ballot was accepted by the machine.
Poll workers at that site said the machine was calibrated in the morning, and checked often throughout the day.
According to County Registration and Election Program Coordinator Michael Bond, all the numbers off the tapes from the machines and the sign-in list matched up. He added the last precinct returned their machines by 8 p.m. so everything was delivered in a timely way.
“At the end of the day, whoever voted, those numbers matched the vote,” Bond said. “It ran really smoothly I thought, until all this came up.”
As for people getting turned away, there was confusion due to several donut holes in the town. Eden Drive was a big point of concern as poll workers had to call the elections office throughout the day to confirm that those living along that road actually resided within the town limits.
Holland added during the meeting that there was some confusion as some people who lived outside the town but had a Burnettown address thought they could cast a ballot, but that was not the case. Only residents who lived within the town limits could vote in Tuesday's council and mayor elections.
Amy Banton is the County reporter for the Aiken Standard.