Gone in a minute:
Farlow protest rejected
Attorney says he didn't miss noon deadline to appeal
By LEE TANT, T&D Staff Writer | Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The S.C. Election Commission is refusing to hear the appeal of an Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5 election, saying it was filed one minute too late.
The attorney for Samuel Farlow, who lost his bid for re-election to the school board, filed his appeal of the Nov. 6 election at 12:01 p.m. Monday, according to the state Election Commission. The deadline was noon.
"The appeal was filed, but it was not timely," said commission spokesman Chris Whitmire.
Whitmire said that Willie Brunson, Farlow's attorney, was told the appeal was filed too late, and that particular ruling will be affirmed in writing to him.
Farlow and former OCSD 5 Board Chairman Kalu Kalu challenged their election losses in hearings before the Orangeburg County Elections Board last week. The board rejected both challenges. While Kalu conceded, Farlow decided to continue with his appeal.
Farlow lost Seat 2 on the OCSD 5 board to Robert "Bo" Gathers by a margin of 446 votes to 423.
On Monday, Farlow said he could not comment on the state Election Commission's decision until he consulted with Brunson on the matter.
Brunson said he talked to the commission's secretary earlier that morning. However, he said when he arrived at the commission's office, she was not at the front desk.
When the secretary returned to her post, the clock on the wall still said noon, Brunson said. He said that the secretary then told him that she goes by the clock on a computer, which read 12:01 p.m. at the time.
Brunson said he argued that the time on the clock on the wall was the commission's notice to the public of the proper time, and suggested that the computer clock could very well be inaccurate.
"I vehemently objected at the scene. I've never been so disappointed in my life. It's a travesty," Brunson said. Brunson said he will file a motion to make an exception.
Brunson said he did not submit the appeal sooner because of the Thanksgiving holiday.
He submitted an eight-page brief to the commission for consideration in which he claimed there were several violations of state election laws, including uncounted ballots, incorrect official reports, malfunctioning voting machines and inappropriate procedure at a protest hearing.
During last week's protest hearing, two members of the Orangeburg County Elections Board voted in favor of Farlow, resulting in a tied vote. They later changed their votes after returning from executive session.
County Attorney D'Anne Haydel said there were no deliberations during that executive session, and it was only called to get an opinion from the state Election Commission on how to proceed.
Gathers said he is patiently waiting to take his seat, saying that both the people and the county elections board have spoken.
"I'm ready to take on the challenge. It's past time for change and everybody wants to see some results," Gathers said.
Whitmire said the election results will be forwarded to the S.C. Secretary of State for final ce.jpgication. Last week, the OCSD 5 board adjourned its meeting early due to the fact that the three newly elected trustees had yet to be ce.jpgied by the state and could not be sworn in to office.
"Once we hear back from the state as to whether the votes have been ce.jpgied, we will bring everybody on board at the next board meeting," said OCSD 5 spokesman Greg Carson. The next board meeting is scheduled for Dec. 11 at Bethune-Bowman Middle-High School.
T&D Staff Writer Lee Tant can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 803-534-1060.
Copyright © 2007, The Times and Democrat, Orangeburg, SC