By Sam Tyson email | Twitter
COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - The state's Democratic Executive Board Thursday decided there was not enough evidence to overthrow the primary election victory of Alvin Greene and force a second primary against Vic Rawl. Greene was not present at the hearing to defend his victory.
Carol Fowler, the state party chair said she invited Greene to attend the hearing, but he said he would not attend.
With a string of witnesses, campaign staffers and expert testimony from mathematics professors and computer forensics technicians, the executive board heard from one person after another who detailed why they believed Greene's victory was in error. With a 38.5-7.5 vote, the board sided in the favor of Greene, rejecting Rawl's protest of the June 8 primary results.
Walter Ludwig, Rawl's campaign manager, said in his testimony that Rawl and Greene tied in the vote count in Charleston County, Rawl's home county. He alleged that would be an impossible feat for Greene, who did not campaign during the primary.
Anne Jett Owens, a campaign worker for Rawl, said she received comments and complaints about voting machine problems from eight counties across the state and said the Berkeley County poll manager and a Charleston County poll technician. Neither people were on hand to report their experiences directly, though.
The word of the day in Columbia was assumption, as many of the people speaking in defense of the Rawl campaign were making assumptions about what went wrong and what may have caused the singular, aberrant race information to be tallied. May of them centered around the functionality of the voting machines, the comparisons of troubled elections held in other states that used similar machines and even speculation on the machines being hacked because some machines were erroneously connected to the internet at some point before or during the election.
No one from the South Carolina Election Commission was present to answer for the allegations of faulty operation made against the voting machines.
When trying to verify results after the election, computer forensics expert Steve Abrams said he approached and turned away by the Berkeley County Election Commission. "I was thwarted," he said.
The Rawl campaign still allege they campaigned hard for the duration of the race. A study released after Greene's win suggested otherwise and declared Rawl and Greene were equally recognizable as candidates. That is to say, not at all.
After hearing from each of the witnesses, a list of nearly 50 questions were submitted to the witnesses in a cross examination by the board members.
When Rawl's lawyer, Mr. Nettles made his closing remarks he was pressed on what exactly the Rawl campaign wanted to happen as a result of the hearing. "Find it invalid and order a new primary election for US Senate," he said.
After, a motion was made to move the board into an executive session to decide Rawl's -- and Greene's -- political fate in the 2010 election cycle. With all the pomp and circumstance of picking sides for a middle school physical education class, those for and against counted themselves off to move into the closed session. By a 31-30 margin, the measure passed.
Ultimately, it appeared a lack of physical evidence spoiled the Rawl complaint. None of the witnesses could attest to any obvious signs of vote tampering or machine malfunction and could only offer theories of what went wrong -- beyond their chosen candidate losing his bid for election.
Abrams even conceded in questioning, "I don't believe [that it's a true, accurate count of the vote] and there's no way to find out if it is at this point."
For nearly 30 minutes, the board deliberated. When they returned, a motion was made to reject the complaint of the Rawl campaign. Those in favor of rejecting the complaint said they did not find enough evidence in the case to overturn Greene's victory. That said, they agreed that something was askew in the state's primary elections -- they just didn't know to what degree.
Those seeking to push for a new election pointed to Greene's absence as a sign that he was not serious about the election, the process, and even a defense of his victory.
"We do the right thing, even when it hurts us. We do the right thing even when it conflicts with what we feel in our hearts," said one of the committee members. "If we react on emotion and not based on the law, how does that make us feel any different or any better than the Republicans?"
After the hearing, Greene issued what he has become known for -- a brief statement.
"I am the best candidate in the US Senate race in South Carolina. And let's stop my opponent and the Republican party from reversing forward progress in South Carolina and in the United States of America," he said.