COLUMBIA -- The S.C. Supreme Court has refused to reconsider its ruling in a 2009 election dispute that kicked two women off the Atlantic Beach council.
The ruling from more than two weeks ago also ordered the women who finished first and second in the disputed election, Carolyn Cole and Windy Price, to take their positions on council immediately, but town officials on Monday said a date for the two new councilwomen to be sworn in has not been set.
The dispute stems from a November 2009 election for two council seats. Cole and Price finished first and second, but the Atlantic Beach Election Commission ruled they were both ineligible. Incumbents for the seats finished third and fourth, and held on to the seats during the appeals.
It marked the third time in six years that the justices had to step into an election dispute in the Horry County town of about 400 people, and Chief Justice Jean Toal's anger was evident in her scathing opinion.
"We have grown weary of the shenanigans engaged in by all parties involved in the election process at Atlantic Beach, and will not hesitate to issue sanctions if the election laws of this State continue to be blatantly disregarded," Toal wrote.
Lawyers for the town Election Commission and incumbent councilwomen Josephine Isom and Charlene Taylor asked the Supreme Court to rehear the case. They pointed out the Elections Board first declared Cole and Price winners two days after the election and only overturned the results during a protest hearing a few weeks later.
The appeal also defended the actions of the town manager, who is the husband of one of the members of the Election Board, when he asked a utility to turn off power to an apartment Cole and Price planned to live in to establish residency. The board's lawyers said the town manager did that with every derelict building to assure it passed an inspection before the power was turned back on.
In their ruling, the justices suggested it was part of a scheme to make sure Cole and Price couldn't get on the ballot for the November election.