Judge tells RC elections to 'make it happen' - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Judge tells RC elections to 'make it happen'

RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WIS) -

A Circuit Court judge is giving Richland County a little more than a week to create an order to separate the county's elections and voter registration board.

Judge G. Thomas Cooper Jr. said Friday he will put the lawsuit under advisement to honor the county's request to organize an order to put the two boards into action.

"We do have people that can fit into the boards," said Alex Postic, attorney for Richland County defendants. "They need to be cloaked with the authority to function on those boards."

Plaintiff attorney Jim Carpenter requested a temporary restraining order from the court Friday since a court order went into effect Dec. 30 stating the county's election and voter registration board stop all activities and go back to its previous two boards before the legislative delegation combined the boards. The judge's order said combining the two boards in 2011 by the General Assembly was unconstitutional because the law focused on a single county.

"The board has had notice and continues to meet," Carpenter said Friday. He requested that all board activities be null and void since Dec. 30. The second lawsuit was filed March 4.

Postic, who described himself as being "extremely new" to the case, said he met with his clients Thursday. They agree they are acting unconstitutionally by staying as one board.

Cooper's concern is the primary election in June and said the "window is narrow" to get acting boards in legal position to follow state law for the upcoming election. However, Postic was confident he only needed a week to finalize the order to put two five-member boards in place.

"We are just trying to save time and put the matter to rest," Postic said.

Carpenter was hoping the court would issue the temporary restraining order to stop the board from doing anything else and "acting as though the order was never issued."

"They should've started in August taking care to respond, but they didn't do anything until we filed the second lawsuit," Carpenter said.

Cooper simply told the defendants' attorney to "make it happen." The judge set an April 1 court date, but an order is expected before then.

WIS will continue to follow this story and update as new information is available.

Copyright 2014 WIS. All rights reserved.

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