HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — The South Carolina Election Commission explained that the “extremely rare” error that caused Horry County republicans to receive democratic ballots in the June primary runoff “was caused by a network drop while the Horry County [data] file was processing.”
The letter, dated Oct. 7, was sent to Horry County Council Chair Johnny Gardner and answers six questions posed to the election commission by an Horry County Council resolution dated Sept. 6. News13 requested the letter on Thursday and received it Friday afternoon.
The main question was how 1,377 democratic ballots were mailed to republican voters for the runoff election and how Horry County appeared to be the only county impacted.
According to Sun Solutions, which is a company that sends out the ballots, “the error was caused by a network drop while the Horry County file was processing,” the letter reads.
The Horry County Board of Voter Registration provided Sun Solutions with the data of those who asked for absentee ballots, so the company could process the data and send out ballots to those who requested them. The letter states that the data provided to Sun Solutions was correct, and the error “caused all voters who requested an absentee ballot to receive a Democrat Party ballot.”
Sun Solutions believes the “error was an extremely rare but unfortunate occurrence,” according to the letter.
“We are not aware that any individual was directly responsible for this network error,” the letter reads.
The error only occurred while processing Horry County data and did not appear to impact any other counties, according to the letter from the election commission.
Sun Solutions said it has added additional measures to prevent the issue from happening again, according to the letter, including notifying appropriate staff in the event of a future network drop.
Another question posed by the resolution was how Sun Solutions was selected as a ballot printer by the election commission.
The election commission said only one approved vendor offered absentee ballots in the state before August 2020, but due to the increase in demand for absentee ballots caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, two more vendors were selected, according to the letter. One of the two selected was Sun Solutions.
In order to get approved, Sun Solutions and another company — Taylor Print Solutions — “both underwent testing with the voting system vendor to ensure they could produce quality ballots that could be read by voting system scanners with no issues,” according to the letter. “A committee consisting of SEC staff, Charleston County Board of Voter Registration and Elections staff, and Greenville County Board of Voter Registration and Election staff reviewed the RFI and approved both respondents.”
The letter also stated that the Election Night Results system for publicly displaying race results is only for reporting results and not counting votes. It has been used in the state since 2008.
The Election Night Results platform is used “only to report to the public the results of an election. They are not used to count votes in order to produce an official result of an election, nor are [the company’s] products integrated in any way into the voting system,” the letter reads.
The letter explains that while the ballot printing error was “unacceptable and slightly delayed receipt of some voter’s ballots, the most significant contributing factor to timely delivery of runoff ballots is the short period of time between the primary and runoff.”
The election commission said with elections on Tuesday, the primaries are certified no earlier than the following Friday, by law. When the primary results are certified, the election commission has to then create runoff databases for each county. Those databases must be proofed and tested along with the ballots, according to the letter.
“In the most realistic, best-case scenarios, runoff ballots are not mailed until Tuesday, one week prior to the runoff,” according to the letter.
“For ballots to be guaranteed to be delivered at least seven days prior to the runoff, ballots would have to be mailed on Friday, the week of the primary,” the letter reads. “This is impossible as the election is not made official until late Friday afternoon. For voters to receive runoff absentee ballots earlier, state law would have to be amended to allow more time between primaries and runoffs, which is a matter purely at the discretion of the S.C. General Assembly.”
Read the full letter below: