The people awaiting results in Tuesday’s Democratic primary runoff were shocked to learn they were going home without knowing the winner.
A machine malfunctioned in one of the precincts, leaving votes uncounted in the tight race.
“That machine had about 20-something votes on it, so we cannot get the votes off of that,” Orangeburg County Director of Voter Registration Aurora Smalls said.
“We don’t know how the votes look,” she said.
A runoff was held Tuesday between Deloris Frazier and Ray Wannamaker Sabalis, who were the top vote-getters in the Sept. 26 Democratic primary for the Orangeburg County Council District 6 seat.
The winner will face GOP candidate Josh Ridley in the Nov. 28 special election to fill the seat left vacant by the death of longtime councilman Clyde Livingston.
After an hour of waiting for the results Tuesday night, the votes came in showing Sabalis with just one vote over Frazier.
Sabalis received 535 votes to Frazier’s 534.
Smalls then came up to tell the crowd gathered in the Administrative Building that the votes were unofficial because one machine had failed.
The broken machine had been stationed at Ward 8 in William J. Clark Middle School.
Smalls said she will take the machine to Florence on Wednesday morning so a technician can get the results off of it.
“They asked us to ship it, but I want the results as soon as possible so I will meet them tomorrow morning,” she said.
Smalls said the machines would be sealed Tuesday night and placed in the county administrator’s office, which will be locked and have security cameras watching.
Smalls noted that the seal will not be broken until the machine reaches the technician.
The machines were last serviced in 2015, but Smalls said, “They are old machines and it just died.”
“It was serviced already but it’s a machine and things happen,” she added.
All votes will be certified at 11 a.m. Thursday.
Smalls said there will be an automatic recount if the votes are less than 1 percent apart.
Sabalis was almost speechless and said the night was simply “unbelievable.”
She said it goes to show that “every vote counts.”
Sabalis added that there are no hard feelings between her and Frazier.
“We look forward to the certification but the two of us are great,” she said.
Frazier joked that they will split the duties on council.
“She will do it one week and I’ll do it the next,” Frazier said, laughing.
During the six-candidate primary two weeks ago, Sabalis got 343 votes, or 29.88 percent, and Frazier got 307 votes, or 26.74 percent.
A candidate needed over 50 percent to secure a win.
On Tuesday, 1,081 ballots were cast out of 8,392 registered voters in District 6.
District 6 runoff results by precinct:
Ward 1: Sabalis, 46; Frazier, 13
Ward 2: Sabalis, 4; Frazier, 10
Ward 3: Sabalis, 0; Frazier, 10
Ward 6: Sabalis, 19; Frazier, 28
Ward 7: Sabalis, 87; Frazier, 76
Ward 8: Sabalis, 44; Frazier, 10
Ward 9: Sabalis, 2; Frazier, 10
Ward 10: Sabalis, 49; Frazier, 61
Suburban 4: Sabalis, 4; Frazier, 1
Suburban 5: Sabalis, 15; Frazier, 94
Suburban 6: Sabalis, 19; Frazier, 47
Suburban 7: Sabalis, 127; Frazier, 33
Suburban 8: Sabalis, 34; Frazier, 11
Limestone 1: Sabalis, 10; Frazier, 21
Cordova 2: Sabalis, 5; Frazier, 40
Absentee: Sabalis, 70; Frazier, 69