CHARLESTON (AP) — Several current and former Lincoln County officials are being sued by a woman who claims she lost a 2010 bid for a County Commission seat because of ballot stuffing.
Maria “Phoebe” Harless’ lawsuit says the defendants deprived her of her due process and equal protection rights. It seeks more than $57,000 in damages.
“The conduct of the named defendants directed specifically toward the plaintiff was outrageous, unconscionable and such as would shock the conscience of any reasonably prudent human being,” the lawsuit states.
The Charleston Daily Mail says the lawsuit was filed last week in federal court in Charleston.
Defendants include the Lincoln County Commission and individual commissioners, former Sheriff Jerry Bowman and former county Clerk Donald Whitten.
The allegations of ballot stuffing did not include Commissioner Charles Vance. The lawsuit alleges that he falsely claimed he lived in the magisterial district he represents after he moved to another district, where Harless lives.
A call to the County Commission seeking comment on the lawsuit wasn’t immediately returned Friday.
Allegations of improper absentee votes had surfaced immediately after the primary. A judge that August threw out more than 300 contested ballots in the circuit clerk’s race and reversed Bowman’s initial victory. The judge wrote in his ruling that he made no findings that any person or persons acted improperly. Secretary of State Natalie Tennant’s office continued to investigate the matter before presenting its findings to federal prosecutors.
Bowman and Cook pleaded guilty in March to federal charges that they attempted to flood the county’s May 2010 Democratic primary with fraudulent absentee ballots. They are scheduled to be sentenced June 13.