Accusations of "Jim Crow" dealings fly during Atlantic Beach election hearing

An attorney representing Atlantic Beach Councilwoman Windy Price, who is appealing the town's May 22nd election results, accused the Horry County Election Commission of "Jim Crow" style handlings of that election in an appeals hearing Thursday.

Price lost her bid for mayor in that election.

"By having the all white Horry County Election Commission come in, hand in glove, with Mr. Booker and certain others of his faction, to run an election of mainly African American voters is viewed many as a slap in the face, and viewed by many as harkening back to the Jim Crow days where those of the white race were in charge and could dictate and manipulate votes of African Americans." said Christine Varnado in front of Seventh Circuit Judge J. Derham Cole, who is hearing the appeal.

The 'Mr. Booker' Varnado referred to is former Atlantic Beach town manager William Booker.

In March, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley stepped in and ordered Horry County to oversee the election in Atlantic Beach after results from the November 2011 elections were thrown out by the town's election commission, which then failed to set a new election date.

In her order, Haley cited Booker as one of several Atlantic Beach residents who was concerned the town's election commission was not moving quickly enough.

But in a 2011 South Carolina Supreme Court ruling, Booker was mentioned as one of the people who "worked diligently to obstruct the town council election process."

Varnado told the court she believes the mention of Booker's name in both the governor's order and the court's ruling raises concern.

"Each step of the process Mr. Booker appears," said Varnado.

Booker did attend Thursday's hearing. He said he does not believe the governor acted on his request alone.

Councilman Jake Evans who won the November and May mayoral elections agreed.

"He is a resident of Atlantic Beach and he's clearly concerned as is everybody in Atlantic Beach," said Evans. "It's clear what's going on here."

Evans said what's clear is Price is using the hearing as a ploy to waste time.

"I've been always confident of what the decision of the outcome of the appeals will be, but I'm not so confident about the time period it's going to take to get to that point," said Evans.

Evans defeated Price and incumbent mayor Retha Pierce in the May 22nd election, but has yet to be allowed to take his seat because of the appeals.

Judge Cole will hear Pierce's appeal on Monday.

He's expected to rule on Price's appeal sometime next week.