By Barney Blakeney
The National Action Network protested the North Charleston Nov. 5 municipal elections. The protest came because of voter suppression perpetrated in several of the races, said South Carolina NAN President James Johnson. The Charleston County Board of Elections and Voter Registration November 11 denied the protest.
Johnson said Sunday NAN launched the protest after receiving complaints mayoral candidate John Singletary’s name didn’t appear on several ballots. Singletary challenged incumbent Mayor Keith Summey for the seat in a repeat of the 2015 municipal election. In the 2015 race, Summey beat Singletary 2:1. The November 5 race was much closer. Summey won the election by only about 1,600 votes. Johnson said the race was too close not to protest. Singletary launched his own protest as well. Both protests were denied.
Johnson contended the election was fraught with problems and a new election is merited. NAN will continue its support of Singletary and the quest for a new election, he said. “We won’t allow what’s been done in the past to continue. If we don’t stop the type of politics we see now, our grandchildren will have nothing,” Johnson said.
Former North Charleston NAACP President Ed Bryant backed up Johnson’s claims. The election was a bamboozle, he said. Some voters who cast ballots in previous municipal elections were prevented from doing so November 5, there were candidates’ names missing from some ballots and the county’s new voting machines sometimes didn’t function properly. All totaled, there is merit for a new election, Bryant said. “Clearly voters didn’t have the opportunity to vote for the candidates of their choice,” he said.
Singletary said he launched a protest because the election was a miscarriage of justice. His campaign will continue to seek remedies, he said. They’ll appeal the denial then decide how to go forward. “I appreciate the voters support and will be on the 2023 ballot,” he vowed.
Not all North Charleston voters felt a protest was merited however. One said, “Losing an election is not a basis for a protest. I don’t know what evidence they had to make a protest.” Another said she felt technical problems with the new machines and inadequately trained poll workers who couldn’t solve issues at the precinct level likely were more responsible for the problems than any intentional voter suppression.
Joseph Debney, Board of Elections and Voter Registration executive director said Tuesday, “We had three protests originally filed with our office. One was withdrawn over the weekend and the other two were heard yesterday. All of our ballots show all candidates names that filed with our office.” He suggests interested parties go to: https://www.charlestoncounty.org/departments/bevr/elections.php to view sample ballots taken directly from the voting system.