Legislators search for accountability in county election fiasco

People wait outside Richland County polling place to vote on election night
People wait outside Richland County polling place to vote on election night

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Ten days and counting.

The Richland County results from election day were still being tabulated a week and a half after voters discovered one of the most disorganized elections in the state's recent history.

Even members of the area's legislative delegation have been unable to determine how it all happened.

"It's one thing after another, said Richland County Republican Nathan Ballentine. "It was bad enough on Election Day.  Every day it's gotten worse.  All I want to do is get the delegation together and have the ability to ask questions."

In a toughly worded statement, Democratic Representative Mia Garrick put part of the blame on the delegation itself.

Garrick writing those lawmakers seemed to "have taken a stronger collective stance against the anticipated impact of the new Voter ID law than the actual impact of our failure to comply with this one."

All agree planning and execution of the Richland vote has severely damaged voter confidence.

"It's going to be difficult for the county to overcome that," said Ballentine.

In her statement, Garrick outlines four remedial steps:

  • Apologize formally and unequivocally to voters
  • Acknowledge and accept responsibility for appointing Elections Director Lillian McBride and hold her accountable
  • Take swift action to restore confidence
  • Give voters notice of the next delegation meeting and an opportunity to be heard

"Certainly under the current way it's set up, with the current personnel there, looks like that can't be, but the obvious answer is that it was not a good thing," said Ballentine. "But under the right circumstances, or under different circumstances with different people, maybe the consolidation would have looked much better."

Ballentine and other members of the delegation say even they've had a hard time getting straight answers to questions about what happened on election day.

The delegation hearing is scheduled for Monday, November 26th.

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