|Case of the Month|
In Re: November 4, 2008 Bluffton Town Council Election. Fred Hamilton, Jr.,
and Allyne Mitchell, Respondents, v. Jeff Fulgham, Normand Thomas,
and the Beaufort County Board of Elections and Voter Registration,
of whom Jeff Fulgham and Normand Thomas are Appellants.
Respondents and appellants Jeff Fulgham and Normand Thomas were candidates in an election for two seats on the Bluffton Town Council held on November 4, 2008. Respondents were declared the winners of the election.
Appellant Fulgham filed a challenge with the Beaufort County Board of Elections and Voter Registration (County Board) on November 6, 2008.1 The County Board held a hearing on November 7, 2008, after which it ordered a new election to be held on November 18, 2008.
On November 12, 2008, respondents filed an appeal with the South Carolina State Election Commission (Commission). The County Board filed a brief in which it maintained the Commission did not have subject matter jurisdiction to entertain the appeal and, if jurisdiction was proper, that the record did not warrant reversal of the decision to order a new election. A hearing was held before the Commission on December 3, 2008. No argument was made at the hearing regarding whether the Commission had jurisdiction to proceed with the appeal and the issue was not addressed by the Commission. The Commission voted to overturn the decision of the County Board, finding there was no evidence or documentation to support the Board’s findings.
Appellants filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the South Carolina Supreme Court pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. §§ 7-17-250 and -270 (1976 & Supp. 2008) seeking review of the Commission’s decision. Specifically, appellants argue the Commission did not have jurisdiction to adjudicate a dispute involving a municipal election and that the Commission erred in its decision. The Court granted the petition for a writ of certiorari. The case is scheduled to be heard on Wednesday, May 13, 2009, at 10:30 a.m.
1 Four candidates ran for the two seats on Bluffton Town Council. Respondent received 1553 votes, respondent Mitchell received 1449 votes, appellant Fulgham received 1423 votes, and appellant Thomas received 796 votes. On election day, it was discovered that the voter rolls provided by the Town of Bluffton and Beaufort County differed with respect to which voters actually resided in Bluffton and were therefore authorized to vote in the town council election. The protest filed by appellant Fulgham was based on this discrepancy.
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