In a recount that concluded Friday morning, Sam Tisdale was officially named the Democrat nominee for Kemper County sheriff.
"This morning we reopened all the precinct ballot boxes. We then removed all the absentee ballots, determined which ones went to Mr. Harpole and which ones went to Mr. Tisdale. We subtracted those from the ones in the Aug. 27 certification and then we were able to reach the new numbers," said Marvin Wiggins, a member of the Democratic Executive Committee.
What were those numbers? Well, let's first explain why there was a recount. After Johnny Harpole lost the Aug. 26 runoff by 45 votes, he decided to investigate. In a poll box review, he found alleged discrepancies in absentee ballots, votes cast by felons and supposedly votes cast by people who are deceased.
Harpole and his lawyer filed a petition to contest the race. Thursday night, in a unanimous vote, the Democratic Executive Committee decided to hold a recount.
The committee maintains there were no violations at the polls, but decided to throw out absentee ballots.
"There were so many unlawful absentee ballots it would be impossible to determine the exact amount," said Wiggins.
After the boxes were opened, the new count had Tisdale at 2,118 and Harpole at 1,959. Ironically in the Harpole-driven recount, Tisdale came out 159 votes ahead.
"The sheriff's race is really not in question anymore. It's the process, the election process," said Johnny Harpole, the defeated candidate.
And Harpole plans to take the process to circuit court. Until then, and unless the outcome is changed, Sam Tisdale will face three independents in the Nov. 4 general election.