Odom v. Town of McBee Election CommAnnotate this Case
At issue in this appeal was candidate Glenn Odom’s contest of a McBee Town Council election. The McBee Municipal Election Commission ruled on the contest, and Odom appealed the Commission's decision to the circuit court. The circuit court ruled in favor of Odom, and the Commission and candidate Shilon Green (collectively, Appellants) appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court. During the election, several people attempting to vote were challenged as nonresidents of McBee. At the heart of this appeal were votes cast by four of the challenged voters. The Commission heard testimony from Odom and the four challenged voters and heard arguments from counsel. The four challenged voters testified they were McBee residents at all appropriate times and further testified they voted for Odom. In its written decision, the Commission found the four voters were eligible to vote in the election. The Commission wrote: "Because adding the four votes to the total for Glenn Odom would have changed the outcome of the election, the Municipal Election Commission hereby invalidates the September 5, 2018 election and orders a new election as is required under S.C. Code Ann. 5-15-130." Odom appealed the Commission's decision to the circuit court, arguing the Commission erred in ordering a new election instead of simply counting the four votes and declaring he was a prevailing candidate. The circuit court granted Odom's motion for reconsideration and held the Commission erred in invalidating the election and ordering a new election. The South Carolina Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court's decision to remand the proceedings to the Commission. The Supreme Court modified, however, the circuit court's order in two ways: (1) section 5-15-130, standing alone, required the four votes to be counted; (2) to the extent that the circuit court's decision could be read to order the Commission to declare Odom a prevailing candidate without the four votes first being counted, the Court held the four votes had to first be counted before the results of the election can be determined. The matter was remanded to the Commission and the Court ordered it to unseal the four provisional votes and apply those votes to the vote totals of the candidate(s) for whom the votes were cast, with the results of the election to then be declared accordingly.