HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Mark Lazarus has decided to end his efforts to overturn the results of last month’s runoff election for the chair of the Horry County Council.
Lazarus, who lost the runoff election to incumbent Johnny Gardner after collecting the most votes in the June 14 Republican primary, had appealed the results to the county Republican Party because the Horry County Voter Registration and Elections Board sent nearly 1,400 Democratic ballots to Republican voters ahead of the runoff.
Corrected runoff ballots were mailed out, but Lazarus claimed that voters who were mailed the wrong ballots didn’t have enough time to send in the corrected ballots. Unofficial results on election night showed Gardner with 11,345 votes and Lazarus with 11,092.
After the county GOP rejected his appeal, Lazarus filed an appeal with the state Republican Party to try to overturn the results of the election.
“Unfortunately, appealing the county party’s decision to the South Carolina Republican Party won’t give Horry County voters the answers they deserve as to what went wrong in their election and does not help determine whether anyone who voted by absentee in the runoff election actually had their vote counted or a remedy to count their votes,” Lazarus said Tuesday afternoon in a statement. “Therefore, I accept the certification of this election by the county elections board and recognize there is no recourse to count the votes, so no further appeal will be pursued.”
In his statement, Lazarus said he is disappointed that the Horry County GOP denied his appeal.
“The unexplained snafu caused 1,377 Democrat ballots to be mailed to Republican absentee voters,” he said. “The correct ballots were not mailed until Friday before Election Day on Tuesday. We did not learn until results were posted Election Day that only 140 ballots were received and counted by the deadline. The county council chairman’s race was decided by 260 votes, so there was solid reason to believe the outcome could have been affected by this blunder and it was my intention to make
sure the error was addressed, and those votes counted.”
Lazarus said he appealed to the elections board the day after the election because “adequate time was not given for postal delivery.”
“But the law does not make allowances for mistakes of this magnitude,” he said. “The ballots could not be
opened or counted, nor could the voter list be cross-referenced to determine how many voters were still able to get to the polls despite having requested absentee ballots. The board said there was no process to determine how many voters were disenfranchised or to correct the problem. They said my only recourse was to appeal to the Republican Party’s executive committee.”
However, he said the party refused his appeal because it was filed on July 5, a day after the filing deadline, which happened to fall on the July 4th holiday. However, he said in his statement that the party agreed to hear an appeal in the South Carolina District 106 race, which he said was also filed after the deadline.
Lazarus was trying to regain the council chairmanship he held between 2013 and 2018.