HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Mark Lazarus filed an appeal with the South Carolina Republican Party over the results of the Horry County Council Chair race one day after the Horry County GOP rejected his appeal.
News13 obtained a letter Friday sent to the South Carolina State Republican Party Executive Committee by the lawyer for Lazarus. The letter states he’s appealing the Horry County GOP’s “illegal decision to prevent Mr. Lazarus from having a protest hearing on the false premise that Mr. Lazarus’ filed protest was not timely filed.”
The letter states that the deadline to appeal was July 4, but due to it being a holiday, the deadline was pushed back to July 5. The letter claims that the South Carolina Election Commission confirmed the deadline was moved back a day, but the election calendar on the election commission’s website lists the deadline as July 4.
News13 has reached out to the election commission to see if they did push the deadline back to July 5 and is waiting to hear back. The letter is asking for a new election to be held.
The South Carolina GOP said, per state law, that a hearing will be held on Thursday in Columbia, and the executive committee will take a vote and issue a final decision.
The initial appeal to the Horry County GOP came after 1,377 Horry County Republicans mistakenly received Democratic ballots in the mail. Lazarus said only 140 of the ballots were returned on time to be counted and that another 183 were returned after the deadline.
Based on the deadline, the committee made a motion to end the hearing and block the appeal. Forty executive committee members voted in favor, five voted against, and two abstained. After the appeal was denied, Lazarus said he would look at all legal options with the next step being an appeal at the state level.
Unofficial results on runoff election night showed Gardner with 11,345 votes and Lazarus with 11,092 — a difference of 253 votes.
Lazarus claimed the voters who were mailed the wrong ballots didn’t have enough time to send in the corrected ballots.
Lazarus, who was the council chair between 2013 and 2018, defeated Gardner by a wide margin — 18,296 to 11,989 — in the June 14 Republican primary, but the margin was not enough to avoid a runoff election.
Gardner previously told News13 that Lazarus had no objections about the way the ballot mix-up was handled prior to Election Day.
“I don’t know what Mr. Lazarus’ end game is, other than overturning an election that he didn’t like the results of,” Gardner said previously. “The law that’s in place which will not allow the opening of absentee ballots after 7 p.m. on Election Day was put in place to protect the integrity of elections.”