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S.C. Democratic Party Rejects Senate Primary Protest, Upholds Greene’s Nomination

A majority of South Carolina Democratic Party’s executive committee voted Thursday night to reject a protest against the results of the state’s Senate primary, effectively upholding political newcomer Alvin Greene’s victory.

Members of the committee voted 38.5 to 7.5 — some members of the committee only get one-half of a vote — to reject a formal protest from Greene’s opponent, former state representative and judge Vic Rawl, that sought to overturn the election results based on concerns that flaws in the state’s voting machines may have produced significant irregularities in the election results. Greene defeated Rawl 59-41 percent in the June 8 election.

Rawl’s lawyer, Truett Nettles, called up witnesses ranging from Rawl campaign manager Walter Ludwig to a trio of primary voters to make the case for what Nettles called “the real math” — evidence that voting machines in the state were flawed enough on June 8 to render the published results untrue. No representative for Greene’s campaign was present at the hearing, though state party chair Carol Fowler told the body she and other party leaders had strongly encouraged him to attend and present his case.

Ludwig testified that he believed, based on an extensive analysis of the results, that “this election misfired.” He went on to debunk several theories the press and politicians had used to explain Greene’s victory, even citing studies conducted by FiveThirtyEight.com and Swing State Project.

Several experts testified on their own findings about the state’s voting machines. Duncan Buell, a computer science professor at the University of South Carolina, saying that people should view the machines with “an enormous amount of skepticism.”

Several members of the committee said during a public deliberation session that they were deeply conflicted on the case.

“I believe what happened last Tuesday was deeply flawed,” said state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, a member of the Democratic National Committee. “I know there is a lot of anger in here. What’s important to me is winning in November.”

During an impromptu press conference following the meeting’s adjournment, Rawl said he will not appeal the board’s decision.

“This is the only opportunity that I had to bring it before a group of people who have the best interest of the Democratic Party and the state of South Carolina in their hearts and minds,” he said. “I appreciate the opportunity to present it. I did present it to the best of my ability and the best ability of my staff.”

The board’s decision means that three challenges to Greene’s candidacy have gone down to defeat.

Two other challenges remain open at this point.

The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Greene and three other Democratic candidates over their failure to file mandatory campaign financial disclosure forms. An FEC spokesman told TWI that the commission has received the complaint.

The Associated Press reported that state Rep. Chip Limehouse (R) asked the state police to investigate how Greene paid his filing fee. State police told the AP they are reviewing the request.

Updated at 1:23 p.m. on June 18.

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