Simpsonville election made final

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Vowels passes on a recount

By Nathan L. McBroom

Cary Vowels will hold his peace.

Two days after Vowels lost a tainted Simpsonville City Commission election by a single one vote, Vowels said he has decided to not ask for a recount.

During the election on Tuesday, it has been confirmed that an unknown number of non-city residents were given ballots that allowed them to vote in the Simpsonville City Commission race.

When the results were released that night, Vowels was beat out of the fourth and final seat by fellow incumbent, Dottie Shelburne, 440-439.

As it stands, newcomer Sharon Cummins will be joined by incumbents Scott McDowell, Vicky Wise and Shelburne on the commission for the next two years. Vowels, who had been on the commission for six years, initially said he is going to consider calling for a recount. But, after mulling it over, he said it was best to let it go.

“I have thought about it long and hard, and I think that this is the best thing to do,” he said. “I'm just going to leave it the way it is.”

Vowels said if a recount was called for, it could end up that he was beaten by even wider margin.

And though Vowels’ desire to not be a sore loser may keep the county from having to do a recount this time, it doesn’t ensure that the problem of miscast ballots has been dealt with.

Shelby County Clerk Sue Carroll Perry said the ballots cast by non-residents were the result of an "unfortunate human error," but “there is nothing more that we could have done at this time.

"There are safe guards in place. But, when you are dealing with humans, it is not going to be prefect,” she said.

Perry would not estimate how many of these ballots were cast but said it could not have been a large number. A total of 2,870 votes were cast in the Simpsonville race on Tuesday with each voter allowed vote for up to four candidates. There are 2,039 registered voters in the city limits.

There is one precinct that is entirely city residents and two precincts that are mixed. The confusion occurred in precinct F103, which has both city and county residents.

During the state mandated training before the election, precinct officers were coached to make sure that all voters who live on a city street receive the proper ballot.

Perry said precinct officers had rosters of all every body that they are in the city.

“They don't do it intentionally,” she said. “Actually we have been doing everything that we know how to do.”

Perry said she would “absolutely understand” if Vowels had asked for a recount and “wouldn’t blame him at all.” But if Vowels had called for a recount, Perry said she does not think there would be any possible way to determine which ballots were cast by city residents and which were not.

She said ballots are not numbered and recorded in such a way that would allow such determinations to be made. In that situation, a complete re-canvassing might have been required.

She said what the voters need to do if they have been given an improper ballot is to notify precinct officer immediately and ask for another ballot.

Simpsonville Mayor Steve Eden said, because this was a problem that has occurred in the past, he was disappointed that more safeguards were in place to prevent it from happening. He said he safeguards will be established before the next election. Eden said Vowels has been a good commissioner and good for the city. Vowels said even though he will not sit on the commission for another term, he accomplished on of his goals that got into politics in the first place: he made sure people had a choice on the ballot.

He said he has no regrets.

“I've learned a lot. And it's been a great six years,” he said. "When one door closes, one door opens.”