No problems found in Atlantic Beach voting machines

The voting machines Atlantic Beach town leaders refused to return to Horry County are now back in the county's possession.

The State Election Commission got the machines and conducted an audit, according to Horry County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier.

The commission said the Atlantic Beach Municipal Election Audit revealed no exceptions and no errors.

The machines will be put back into rotation and will be used for future elections.

On November 1, Atlantic Beach held elections for mayor and two town council seats. Two days later, Jake Evans was certified as the winner of the mayor's race, defeating incumbent Mayor Retha Pierce and Councilwoman Windy Price. Josephine Isom and Charlene Taylor were certified as town council winners, taking the seats previously held by Windy Price and Carolyn Cole.

Just hours later, Price and Misty Umphries, who was running for one of the town council seats, appealed, claiming Evans and his supporters intimidated voters, bought votes and committed numerous other voting violations. The appeal claimed the town's election commission failed to consider those violations before certifying the results.

A hearing on the appeal was held on November 5, and the town's election commission ordered a new election saying there was evidence of fraud, intimidation, and questionable or phony voting machines. The election commission said the incumbents would remain in office until a new election could be held.

Atlantic Beach refused to return the machines to Horry County until the machines could be checked out. Horry County deputies seized the machines in December. A judge ruled they had to be returned to the county.