By Stan Welch
The cause of the controversy surrounding the Anderson County Republican Party’s (ACRP) convention earlier this month has apparently been determined. Lee Rogers, former ACRP chairman, and chairman of this year’s credentials committee, spoke with The Journal and confirmed that he had inadvertently and repeatedly miscounted the number of delegates.
“I just screwed up,” said Rogers, of Williamston. “I not only missed a part of the delegate list; I missed it three times. I am still kicking myself and I just feel sick about it, because the confusion detracted from the importance of what the convention was about.”
Rogers pointed out, however, that in the end the teller committee, which counts the actual votes cast, did the right thing and counted every vote. “The confusion didn’t affect anything. The following Thursday, I met with party chairman Dan Harvell, Mark Powell, and the party’s attorney Curt Gibson, and we figured out what happened.”
The current party chairman, Dan Harvell, was reelected while Williamston attorney Lee Cole was elected as state executive committee member. Both won by more than the contested fifteen votes, making the issue of the additional votes moot. Curt Gibson, whom Lee Cole defeated, said he had no hard feelings.
Rogers said that he contacted state Republican Party chairman Chad Connelly and informed him of the local party’s findings. Nevertheless, a formal protest of the election results was filed, and accepted, by the state organization subsequent to that conversation.
Rogers said he hopes that the clarification provided by the local leadership will serve to end the protest. “I certainly hope the protest is denied. It was a simple, if glaring error, with no bad intent.”
In a statement to The Journal, Anderson County Republican Party Chairman Dan Harvell said, “The circumstance that occurred has been totally resolved and the assertion of wrongdoing by anyone associated with the ACRP has been completely debunked. Human error was the one and only factor that rendered “confusion” at the convention.”
“As chairman, I made every effort to stay hands off and away from the voting process of electing officers for the next two years,” Harvell said. “The ballots were placed in the delegate packets entirely by the registration committee and handed to the delegates as they checked in using the list of delegates formulated from the precinct reorganization that occurred in March. At our convention, the number of credentialed delegates was fifteen less than the number of ballots cast, therefore the problem. Most unfortunately, no re-count of the number of delegates certified by the Credentials Committee was done. Had that re-count been performed between the Credentials and Tally Committees prior to the public announcement of “a problem,” the matter would have been resolved, the confusion averted, and those in attendance would have left without any questions concerning the election.”
Calls to the state headquarters to determine the status of the protest were not returned prior to deadline.
The state party received a formal letter of protest Wednesday afternoon, signed by six members of the party.
Hope Walker, spokesperson for the state party, confirmed that the protest has been filed, and will be reviewed by the state party officials as soon as local efforts to verify the counts are finished, and the final results are forwarded to Columbia.
Walker says that once a state party review is complete, a number of actions could be taken, up to and including nullification of the elections, and new elections being held.” The state executive committee will review everything and determine the appropriate course of action. A number of options can and will be considered. Nullifying the results is one of those possible courses of action.”
The elections were shrouded in controversy and became chaotic when it was discovered that fifteen more ballots were cast than the number of delegates eligible to vote. Some who attended blamed a total lack of organization for the problems.
Others anticipated the worst. One delegate said when he received his packet and it wasn’t sealed he knew there would be problems. The confusion deepened when, after several hours of wrangling, delegates began to leave before all the proposed resolutions were voted on. Their departure left the convention without a quorum and several resolutions were not voted on.