Here’s another batch of chaos in S.C. government, courtesy of the self-styled “Freedom Caucus”: An Atlantic Beach Town Council member who didn’t run for reelection in November and apparently lost a race for mayor is still holding office, and the woman who was elected to that seat — and even sworn into office — is not allowed to serve.

The House’s chaos-sowers are not directly responsible for this real-life actual, indisputable disenfranchisement of voters. That distinction goes to the cabal controlling the council, who first said Carla Taylor couldn’t take office — despite having been sworn in — because she hadn’t completed an orientation session that she says the mayor kept canceling on her, and later cited a state law that says holdover incumbents have to remain in office as long as someone is challenging the election results.

Those challenges would have been resolved long ago if the Town Council hadn’t interfered with its election commission. Indeed, no one was challenging the results of the Town Council election during most of the time since Ms. Taylor was elected in November (the challenge in Atlantic Beach has until recently involved only the mayor’s race), but a losing council candidate recently filed a tardy protest, according to The Post and Courier’s Nicole Ziege. Last month, a court denied Ms. Taylor’s motion for a preliminary injunction in her suit demanding that she be seated.

But while the caucus didn’t cause the chaos in Atlantic Beach, it prevented it from being settled by now — or any time in the foreseeable future.

One of the disruptive things the caucus did in the hectic final hour of the regular legislative session last month was to kill an effort to repeal the law that the Atlantic Beach officials are using to hang onto power.

The original purpose of H.3734 was to consolidate municipal elections to two or three dates in odd-numbered years, so they don’t get mixed up with state and federal elections and, more importantly since few municipal elections are held on the normal Election Day, to make it easier for voters to keep up with when they’re supposed to vote. It passed the House unanimously last year.

Sen. Chip Campsen convinced the Senate to amend the bill by adding the text of his bill to eliminate that holdover provision, which allows anyone who files a lawsuit to delay newly elected officials from taking office, but only in municipal elections.

We’re not sure why state law requires/allows defeated or retiring incumbents to remain in municipal offices but not in legislative, county and state offices when someone challenges the election results. It seems like the rule should be the same in all instances — and in all instances it should allow defeated and retiring officials to be replaced with the ones who were elected.

Whatever the reasoning, the holdover law could have been repealed by now, and Atlantic Beach officials no longer would be able to keep Ms. Taylor out of office, if the Legislature had passed H.3734 on May 9. It didn’t because when the Senate sent its amended version of the bill back to the House that afternoon, a freedom fighter used the power every House member has but few dare use on the final day of the session: Rep. Rob Harris killed the election bill by demanding that the body wait 24 hours to consider the Senate changes. This happened with eight minutes to go in the session, and just 26 minutes after another caucus member had used the same maneuver to kill the most important legislation of the session — a bill to combine six uncommunicative, overlapping health agencies.

The caucus’ concern apparently was another provision lawmakers had added to H.3734, to allow election officials to begin counting absentee and early votes at 7 a.m. on Election Day, rather than waiting until after the polls closed at 7 p.m.

The caucuseers argue that letting election officials feed some results into vote counters before polls close would allow them to somehow taint the elections. At least that’s just brd on extreme paranoia and cynicism, rather than the bald-faced lies that marked their “reasons” for killing the public health bill. (Legislative leaders are working to revive S.915 when they convene for a brief meeting this week.)

The unelected members who are holding the Atlantic Beach Town Council hostage need to stop fighting Ms. Taylor’s lawsuit — as well as another suit challenging the town’s failure to resolve the conflict about the mayor’s race, which has left the retiring mayor in office nearly seven months after the election.

And this real, ongoing example of a travesty of justice should remind our Legislature it still needs to repeal the holdover law. It also needs to either abolish municipal election commissions or else create a mechanism that will let professionals step in when municipal officials demonstrate they are either unable or unwilling to do their jobs — as has been happening in Atlantic Beach since at least November.

And voters need to pay closer attention to what the Freedom Caucus is doing to our state.