SC Dems hearing protest over Greene primary win

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina’s Democrats are gathering Thursday to decide whether to overturn the results of the primary election in which an unemployed, unknown military veteran won the nomination for U.S. Senate.

The state party’s 92-member executive committee is meeting in Columbia to hear a protest by former state lawmaker Vic Rawl. Earlier this week, Rawl filed an official protest of the primary results, arguing that malfunctions in voting machines or software may have caused him to lose the June 8 Democratic primary to political unknown Alvin Greene.

Greene, 32, stunned the party establishment when he defeated Rawl in the June 8 primary to see who would face GOP U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, the heavy favorite in the fall.

Greene won with 59 percent of the vote to Rawl’s 41 percent. In his protest, Rawl said he had spoken with voters who said they meant to vote for him but saw Greene’s name on their screens instead.

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Rawl has asked the state Democratic Party for a new primary election based on flaws with the voting machines or software, citing voting irregularities including people who tried to vote for Rawl but whose ballots showed Greene’s name checked instead.

The executive committee is expected to make its decision at the end of Thursday’s hearing. The group could uphold the election, order a new primary or find that problems were so significant that Rawl should be declared the winner, according to the state party’s executive director, Jay Parmley.

Earlier this week, Greene told The Associated Press he would neither attend the hearing nor send a representative.

Greene’s surprise victory spawned a number of queries into how the unemployed military veteran who lives with his father won the primary, despite raising no money and mounting no campaign.

A Republican state lawmaker has asked state police to investigate how Greene paid his filing fee of more than $10,000, after claiming indigence and being appointed a public defender to represent him in a court case. And a Washington-based watchdog group wants South Carolina’s attorney general to investigate if someone had paid Greene to file for the office.

Greene has said he saved up for two years to pay the $10,440 candidate fee.

State Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Fowler asked Greene to withdraw after AP reported he was arrested in November and charged with showing obscene Internet photos to a University of South Carolina student, then talking about going to her room at a university dorm. He has declined to comment on the charge, has yet to enter a plea or be indicted and says he’s staying in the race.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.