Hampton County Coroner election results upheld after hearing - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Hampton County Coroner election results upheld after hearing

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HAMPTON CO., SC (WTOC) -

There were allegations of voter fraud in the race for Hampton County Coroner, but the results of that election were upheld on Thursday.

Coroner candidate Gordon Rohden claims supporters of his opponent, Ernie Washington, were handing out sample ballots on the day of the election with the names of certain candidates, including Washington, highlighted.

This was said to have happened during the primary on June 10. Both Rohden and Washington ran on the Democratic ticket without a Republican challenger.

Rohden filed a formal protest to the election results. A hearing on the allegations was held on Thursday in front of the Hampton County Democratic Party's executive committee.

The committee voted four to three to uphold the election results and strike down the formal protest to it.

Party Chairwoman Susan Rowell said Rohden didn't have enough evidence.

"He could have had me subpoena certain witnesses," she said. "He did not have me subpoena those witnesses, and there was not sufficient evidence under the law to overturn this election."

With no Republican challenger in the fall, Washington is essentially re-elected as Hampton County Coroner as a result of this hearing.

Washington said he's glad it's over with and that he's been re-elected as coroner as he doesn't face any republican challenger in the fall.

Rohden said he wished he had more time to prepare for Thursday's hearing. 

When asked about the sample ballots that were allegedly passed out, Washington said, "I don't know anything about that. I had nothing to do with that."

Another issue that was raised in the hearing was absentee ballots. Rohden's team claimed some candidates were soliciting absentee ballots in violation of state law.

"There's a handful of people who turn in an abundance of absentees," said Rohden's daughter, Ryan Brunson. "They go from house to house to house."

Roswell had a warning for Hampton County candidates after these allegations.

"Anybody who is not playing by the rules and is working on their behalf, I hope it will encourage them to stop and to do the right thing," said Roswell.

Rowell says this isn't the first time she's heard of potential issues with sample ballots, and she plans to bring the issue up with the county's board of elections. 

Of the 4,917 votes cast in Hampton County in the election on June 10, 1,162 were absentee ballots. 

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