It took a recount, two trips behind the cage and as many questionable ballots, but Tega Cay has its new city council member.
The county election board took less than an hour Thursday morning to certify results from Tuesday’s election. Gus Matchunis collected nine votes more than Abigail Duval, 869-860. Mike Tullos finished third with 80 votes.
The vote was close enough to send election officials and board members behind an actual metal cage, there to protect voting equipment at the elections office, twice.
“Because of the legal requirement, there will be a round of the results,” said board Chairman Steven Rast.
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The vote also was close enough to where write-ins could have swung it. There were 10 such votes, more than the margin separating Matchunis and Duval. None were for cartoon characters or distant celebrities. There were three for former Councilman Ron Kirby.
Before certifying results, the board voted unanimously to disallow one provisional vote from a woman election staff said had no identification at the polling precinct.. She was allowed to vote, but was told she’d need to supply the information prior to certification for it to count. She didn’t. The ballot wasn’t opened to determine which candidate the woman selected.
Another incident involved a father and son with the same name, which caused confusion. One Twitter user reached out to the Fort Mill Times stating he was told an 18-year-old wasn’t allowed to vote at the Shoreline precinct.
That vote was, according to a follow-up tweet, intended for Matchunis.
Beth Covington with the election office said the woman without identification, given a provisional ballot, was fairly standard procedure. The 18-year-old was a matter, she said, of confusion after poll workers already saw that name as having voted.
“The father was marked as the son,” she said.
Covington said the would-be voter was told he could cast a provisional ballot while election workers figured out the issue, or return later. She went to the site where workers found the issue and the two separate signatures. Had the voter then returned prior to polls closing, he could have used the machine as usual.
The voter declined, Covington said, to cast the provisional ballot. Had he, it would’ve counted after election officials resolved what happened.
“We always have provisional ballots for just that reason,” she said.
The close vote in Tega Cay is unusual, but not unprecedented. Last fall the mayor race in Clover came down to a single vote. That same day, Duval and Matchunis fell short in a seven-way race for two seats in Tega Cay. Duval within about 30 votes of earning a seat then.
Matchunis will now fill out the unexpired term left when David O’Neal resigned the council post to become mayor.