Some in Aiken Co. town say legitimate voters were turned away


News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013

BURNETTOWN, S.C. (WRDW) -- In Burnettown, voting is over. Incumbent Mayor C.H. Williams was reelected by a big margin. Williams had 198 votes. His closest opponent had just 99.

"We've always voted, she's always voted, for every one of the elections since we've been in Burnettown," says Coley Wilson.

But after this election, Wilson has a bad taste in his mouth. He voted at his precinct, Burnettown's town hall, on Tuesday. However, his 82-year-old grandmother didn't have the same luck at first.

"They told her that she was not on the list," he says. "Then they told her she was not in Burnettown -- that her house was not in Burnettown, so she couldn't vote. So, she left."

Wilson called the Aiken County Registration and Elections office and found out, only then, that she was turned away incorrectly. He convinced his grandmother to take the trip back up to town hall to vote, but at first, she didn't want to.

Now, Wilson and others wonder how many others were turned away incorrectly.

"I also heard that a couple of those, when they were turned away, did not come back," says Wilson.

The elections office says there's a simple explanation. The book, or list, of voters isn't accurate. It didn't include voters on certain roads when, in fact, it should have.

However, Executive Director Cynthia Holland says poll workers called the Aiken office whenever there was confusion. She says she's not aware of any legitimate voters being turned away.

In addition to Wilson, William Robert of Burnettown also experienced the hiccup. He says another elderly voter was almost turned away while voting at LBC Middle School, another nearby precinct, even though she too resides within Burnettown on Minter Street. Robert says it was only after he raised Cain, with a map in hand, that the woman was allowed to vote.

Robert says a poll worker commented that the woman was the third person out of nine who had had the same problem. In fact, he says the worker went on to say that every house on Minter Street had been left off the list of Burnettown voters.

In addition to the known problems with Minter Street and Eden Drive, on Tuesday, a poll worker also told News 12 that some voters who lived directly behind town hall were having problems as well.

The elections office says they've asked the state to help fix the problem.

"We have people, for fact, we know who were turned away that they couldn't vote," adds Peyton Minor.

Minor, who supported candidate Henry Carlin, says he also heard a poll worker encourage someone to vote for the incumbent mayor. Elections Director Holland says the elections office heard that same report, but right now, if it's true, no worker has owned up to it, she says.

"Was it intimidating inside town hall yesterday?" reporter Chad Mills asks Minor.

"Yeah. Very much so," he says. "I think there was pressure for who to vote for."

As for the numbers themselves, Holland says every vote cast was properly counted.


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