Pawleys Island mayor election tied, about 30 votes contested over residency questions

Elections

PAWLEYS ISLAND, SC (WBTW) – A South Strand town is waiting to see if it will need to vote again in its mayoral election.

The town of Pawleys Island’s borders stop at the two causeways, but some people who don’t live full-time on the island are voting for town offices. One is even is running for mayor. According to unofficial results, Tuesday’s mayoral election was a 58-58 tie between Mayor Jimmy Braswell and Brian Henry.

Henry uses the address of his bed-and-breakfast called Sea View Inn to be considered a Pawleys town resident.

“That is the place where my wife and I tend to return for the long haul and that’s why I claim it,” said Henry.

According to state law, a voter can take part in elections for the location of that person’s residence, which is called a “domicile.” That domicile “is a person’s fixed home where he has an intention of returning when he is absent.” Each person can only claim one domicile.

Mayor Braswell says Henry’s business shouldn’t count as a home.

“It is an inn,” Mayor Braswell said. “It is closed five months out of the year. That’s on the website. They actually have no heat and no water at that time.”

The tie vote may be decided by 28 or 29 contested votes, based on that question of full-time residency. The contested votes will be decided upon when the Georgetown County elections board certifies the election at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Henry says people who may not live full-time on the island are just as invested in the town.

“I believe all of those votes are coming to me because the other side did cherry-pick who they were going to contest, based on their favoritism towards not only me, but some other candidates,” Henry said.

Mayor Braswell disagrees, saying it’s not fair to year-round town residents who pay a higher property tax rate to allow off-island taxpayers, claiming an island residency only on voter registrations, to vote.

“The majority of these contested votes have homes off the island that they’re at 4%, which basically says when you claim that, you claim that’s your primary residence,” said Mayor Braswell.

If the vote is still tied after the results are certified by the county, a runoff would be held in two weeks.

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