ATLANTIC BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Nearly one week after election day, Atlantic Beach still does not have a new mayor.
Just hours before the mayoral recount on Friday afternoon, Jacqui Gore, who was recently reelected for town council, told News13 about an emergency meeting they were calling to have the election commission disbanded.
A spokesperson for the state election commission, John Catalano, says this situation is rare.
“That’s very unusual. I can’t think of a time that I know of that, that’s happened before,” he said. “I’m not saying it hasn’t, but I’ve not heard of something like this happening.”
Catalano says he and other officials think Horry County election officials should be involved in cases like this because they know the rules and procedures.
“It’s something that we strongly recommend any municipality that still has an MEC,” Catalano said. “Transfer your authority over to the county because they’re election officials.”
Current mayor Jake Evans told News13 that he called the emergency meeting on Friday after the commissioner was “cheating” and not acting in accordance with the law.
Evans asked the commissioner why there wasn’t a court reporter present when there was one the day before.
It’s worth noting that another member of the town’s council is Josephine Isom, a mayoral candidate who was the top vote-getter after election day before falling behind John David after Thursday’s recount.
A town resident and former councilman said he’s surprised.
“It’s really a disappointment, but we’re still fighting the town,” Ken McLaurin said. “The town will move forward. There’s a lot of great citizens in this town and we’ll see that the right behavior and the right kind of action takes place.”
Andrew Kurlowski, a political science professor at Coastal Carolina University, says election commissions are approved by the state to have authority over the town’s elections.
However, he said if the council isn’t allowing them to do their job by not giving them access to resources they need, it could be concerning.
“The state of South Carolina uses a paper ballot trail, an auto-trail,” Kurlowski said. “So, you know, we can pull those ballots back up, we can check them out, we can reconcile to make sure the ballots that were given to a particular precinct are the same number that came back.”
Catalano says that more than likely, the court will have to decide the next course of action. He said the state election commission is aware of the situation but doesn’t have the authority to do anything.
An Horry County official told News13 she doesn’t have a comment because they too don’t have authority over the town’s election.
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Jackie LiBrizzi is a multimedia journalist at News13. Jackie is originally from Hamilton, New Jersey, and was raised in Piedmont, South Carolina. Jackie joined the News13 team in June 2023 after she graduated as a student-athlete from the University of South Carolina in May 2023. Follow Jackie on X, formerly Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, and read more of her work here.