Third election set for Nov. 30 in Society Hill mayor’s race

Society Hill Mayor Tommy Bradshaw and challenger Dwayne Duke await the results of the recount. PHOTO BY BOBBY BRYANT

By Bobby Bryant, Editor

In a startling twist, the race for Society Hill mayor has entered its third round – there will be a runoff of the runoff. County elections officials last week ordered a new election Tuesday, Nov. 30, to decide whether Society Hill’s mayor will be incumbent Tommy Bradshaw or challenger Dwayne Duke. Even after certification of the Nov. 16 runoff votes and a recount of the votes, the rivals remained at a 98-98 tie. This “runoff of the runoff” is very rare, said Darlington County elections chief Hoyt Campbell. He said that he had never seen it happen in this county in his 30-some years of election work. It’s so rare that Bradshaw is concerned that voters in the town of 560 people might not even realize it’s going on. He said alerting people that a third election has been called will be part of his campaign over the next two weeks. Duke had no immediate comment after elections officials decided last Thursday to make plans for a third vote. The unofficial results of the Nov. 16 runoff – 98 votes for Duke and 97 for Bradshaw — left some voters uncertain who won. When elections officials closed up for the night after the runoff, Campbell said the Society Hill mayor’s race could not be called. When elections officials met two days later to certify the Nov. 16 results, there were two “provisional” ballots in the Society Hill mayor’s race to be considered. One was not counted. The other was, and it was a vote for Bradshaw, leaving the race tied 98-98. That triggered a recount, and the recount also showed a 98-98 stalemate. “Ninety-eight to 98!” Campbell said, looking over the results. Another Society Hill race – this one for Town Council – also was on the table for elections officials certifying the vote. Melissa Burch won that race with 99 votes, but rival Kevin Long picked up one more vote in the certification process, giving him 94. “It just illustrates how important one vote is,” Long said of the mayor’s race. “People that don’t think their vote counts, it’s furtherest from the truth.” In Long’s council race – which he lost by five votes – “A handful of votes would have made a difference.”

Author: Stephan Drew

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