Lawmakers to question Richland Co. election leaders - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Lawmakers to question Richland Co. election leaders

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Lawmakers who appointed the people in charge of the Richland County Elections Commission are pulling them into a hearing for answers.

A group of Richland County House and Senate members want answers from the heads of the Elections Commission after voters reported 6 hour wait times to vote.

We talked to two Richland County senators who both promised this will never happen again and threatened to replace the people in charge.

Lawmakers call it the worst election collapse in South Carolina history. Thousands of voters had to walk away from the polling places Tuesday in Richland County after wait times reached far beyond their capacity of patience.

"The one thing I would say is, for some of the folks that may have complained, which, of course they're our citizens and I really respect their opinions, but get involved in the process, come and volunteer for out next big election in four years," said Richland County spokesperson Stephany Snowden.

Richland County Sen. John Courson says that's not enough.

"We pay the box managers and they're not doing to for the money. They're doing it because of civic pride, but it's a professional operation, it should be run professionally and frankly, it was not run professionally this time and it will be run professionally again even if we have to change people," said Courson.

Thousands of voters at Ridge View High School in Columbia's northeast waited to use nine voting machines. Thousands couldn't wait and left.

"I had one lady tell me, she says, 'I really feel like for the first time in my life, I've been disenfranchised and that really hit me hard,'" said Richland County Sen. Joel Lourie.

Lourie, along with Courson, want Elections Director Lillian McBride and Elections Board Chair Liz Crum to explain what went wrong to lawmakers. Were there too few machines? Why did so many malfunction? Did voters have enough machines in the first place?

"We're going to dig as deep as we have to dig and take as long as we have to take until we get to the bottom of this, and we can assure the voters that what happened Tuesday, will never happen again," said Lourie.

"Millions of Americans have fought and died for this country and for the right to vote and for people to have to stand in line and have to leave line because they just couldn't stay in it longer, it's just an unconscionable decision and it must never, ever happen again," said Courson.

Lawmakers will bring the entire Board of Elections to the State House Tuesday to interrogate county leaders over the cause of the Richland County elections debacle.

Lourie say this case has opened the door for opening up talks in the legislature for early voting laws in South Carolina.

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