WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - One of the races in last week's election was "tainted" according to a candidate for West Columbia City Council.
His bold claims are apparently not without some merit. Lexington County election leaders have overturned the results of his race. The race in question was for West Columbia's District Five council seat, which is currently held by Councilman Boyd Jones.
Only about 200 people voted in the race, but the candidate who brought the claims to light, Mickey Pringle, said that's not what's most important. Instead, he wants the problems fixed, and he wants to know they won't happen again in his race or in any election.
Two days after the election Pringle sent a letter of protest to the Lexington County Election Commission claiming that numerous people voted who shouldn't have, some of the people who voted don't even live in Lexington County, that poll workers encouraged people to vote without proper ID, and that those workers encouraged voting for a particular candidate.
Pringle said multiple people approached him about those irregularities. He also pointed out that he was able to provide sworn statements from "four or five" people who voted who shouldn't have.
Those allegations matter, because Pringle finished just five votes shy of who was thought to be the winner: Hardy Mitchell.
Tuesday, a week after he thought he won the council seat, Mitchell said he's slightly discouraged, and he believes the election drama might deepen the divide in the district he's hoping to represent.
"Once we get past this re-election or however they want to do this thing, I think we will unite," he said. "I'm hoping that I'll be the one to reunite this community, but I think we'll be alright."
Because the election was overturned, there will have to be another election to decide the winner. Dean Crepes, with the Lexington County elections office, estimated that it'll cost taxpayers about $900.
Current West Columbia council members are expected to talk about the so-called "tainted election" behind closed doors in a council meeting Tuesday night. An item related to the "municipal election" is on the council's agenda for the executive session.
Meanwhile, Lexington County election leaders are investigating Pringle's allegations, and the commission should release its findings later this week.
"When you see a problem, you fix it right away," Pringle said.
When asked, Pringle said he wasn't sure if the errors were intentional or not.