Repeat election in West Columbia raises questions

WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Voting irregularities, fraud, and maybe even forgery are the three reasons Lexington County election officials say they had to re-do a simple city council race.

Last November, they overturned the results in the race for West Columbia City Council District Five. With the re-do election just days away, one of the candidates say they have no assurance fraud won't strike again next Tuesday.

West Columbia voter, Cora Washington, cast her vote in November of last year in favor of her current councilman, Boyd Jones. Days later, she found out her vote was meaningless and the election results were thrown out.

"Everyone is wondering why they have to vote again. It wasn't explained to no one," Washington said.

Washington's candidate, Councilman Jones, is wondering the same thing.

"People don't realize why they have to go back to the polls to vote again. What happened?" Councilman Jones said. "You know, they're asking me those questions, and I can't explain that to them."

Dean Crepes, the Director of Registration and Elections for Lexington County, has that answer.

"This is the first time we've had an election where we basically had it overturned," Crepes said.

Crepes' commission overturned the results after finding voting irregularities and fraud. According to documents released to WIS on Friday, at least six people voted who shouldn't have. In fact, Crepes said SLED is looking into one case of fraud where a mother voted for her son.

All the evidence combined "rendered the results doubtful," the document concludes. Those findings leave voters like Washington and candidates like Jones wondering if all those problems have been fixed and if Tuesday's new election will be accurate.

"Oh, it will be accurate. It will be as accurate as we can get it," Crepes said. "We also have replaced the poll workers with the new poll workers, and we've trained the poll workers, so whenever you go into the precinct on Tuesday morning, it's going to be all ready for you and ready to rock and roll."

The findings say election commissioners don't believe there was any wrongdoing back in November by the poll workers. Instead, commissioners believe the ineligible voters who did vote used outdated IDs or registration cards.

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