The result of the Greenville County Council District 17 Republican primary on June 14 was overturned in a special meeting of the Greenville County Republican Party Thursday night after defeated County Council member Joe Dill filed a protest over alleged voting irregularities.
Now Joey Russo, who won last week's race by 132 votes, has until 3 p.m. Friday to file an appeal of the county organization's decision with the South Carolina Republican Party.
In a written statement to The Greenville News, Russo's lawyer Sloan Ellis said Russo plans to do exactly that.
"We will immediately appeal this ruling to the South Carolina Republican Party executive committee and ask them to certify the original results and declare Joey Russo the winner," Ellis said. "Joey looks forward to the general election and ultimately representing the citizens of District 17 on County Council.”
Officials with the state Republican Party have not yet met to make a final decision regarding the results of the primary.
According to official results, Russo won 51.36% of the vote on June 14 while Dill won 48.64%.
Ellis said that Thursday's vote was a political move by Dill, and he said the vote did not follow proper protocol. Russo was not at the meeting.
Greenville County council election results: Joe Dill, Lynn Ballard lose seats in primary races
“Tonight’s hearing was an orchestrated attempt to overturn the clear will of Republican primary voters in District 17," Ellis said. "Among many other reasons, since Joey was not served with Mr. Dill’s protest as required by law, the committee’s decision is not valid and cannot stand."
Dill said his protest was filed to ensure a free and fair election.
He called several witnesses during Thursday night's meeting who described different issues with their voting last Tuesday. At least three people discussed problems with voting-machine calibration — where an intended selection was not properly recorded, where a ballot wouldn't be read by a machine and where the corresponding totals did not add up, thus indicating improper calibration in the machine.
One woman said she was improperly turned away and denied the opportunity to cast a provisional ballot.
There was an active questioning of Dill's witnesses by executive committee members, but after Dill completed his presentation, there was little debate over the merits of the protest. Instead, the conversation turned primarily toward the method in which their votes would be cast.
Dill said he initially approached the South Carolina Election Commission to overturn the primary results, but the organization refused.
On Thursday night, with a secret ballot where Greenville County Republican Party representatives from the county's voting precincts cast votes, the county's Republican Party upheld Dill's protest by a vote count of 50 to 13.
"The best thing to do is for us to have an election, and he gets a fair vote, and I get a fair vote... because I don't think either one of us should be happy with what we saw here in this election process," Dill said.
Dill said he plans to speak with Greenville County Election Director Conway Belangia about ways to improve the training process for poll workers, which Dill said was one of the most common irregularities he heard about from District 17 constituents.
Check back for more on this developing story.
— Tim Carlin covers county government, growth and development for The Greenville News. Follow him on Twitter @timcarlin_, and get in touch with him at TCarlin@gannett.com. You can support his work by subscribing to The Greenville News at greenvillenews.com/subscribe.
This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Greenville GOP overturns primary election over voting irregularities