Investigator: "The election hit an iceberg and no one seemed to - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Investigator: "The election hit an iceberg and no one seemed to notice"

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Board Attorney Steve Hamm delivered the review of Election Day. Board Attorney Steve Hamm delivered the review of Election Day.

The Board of Elections for Richland County received an interim report on Thursday describing what exactly happened to cause the long lines, broken machines, and voter headaches on Election Day.

Attorney Steve Hamm briefed the board during a meeting on Thursday night. Hamm said the report may have found 102 more votes that were not counted.

"We have 27 votes, I'm satisfied, that were not counted and 102 votes that well may not have been counted," said Hamm.

27 votes were from the Lincolnshire precinct that were discovered last week. 102 electronic votes were found Wednesday in the Spring Valley West precinct.

Hamm said several machines that were located in different precincts almost a week after the election were not improperly left because it's a typical practice, but they should have been picked up sooner.

Those votes cannot be included in election results since they were found after the election results were certified.

Hamm also said that several incorrect assumptions in the summer about machine counts from high atop the Election Commission all the way down to part-time workers ultimately led to less machines being available for Election Day.

"The election hit an iceberg, and no one seemed to notice," said Hamm. 

He said over the summer, Lillian McBride and her staff did what they were supposed to do.  In June they met to decide how many voting machines each precinct would need in November.

Based on early registration numbers, the total number of machines needed was 864. Only 627 machines ended up being used.

"The planning for the election with specific regard to voting machines was off course and that continued up to and including Election Day," said Hamm.

Despite a spreadsheet showing 864 machines were needed, an e-mail in July from a staff member claims Director McBride revised that number to a staggering 605 machines, nearly 260 less than the original number.

"That e-mail reports that the director gave me a revised list of the machines needed for the November 6th election," said Hamm. "She got the number down to 605."

Click here to read the full report and see the email in question

Hamm said he's found no proof that Director McBride revised that number.  He said it speaks to a bigger issue -- lack of communication.

"These were unfortunate problems," said Hamm. "Some of which absolutely would have been prevented if we had a system to make sure we're following up and checking up and checking on significant issues."

There was also the issue of malfunctioning machines and battery problems.  Hamm said the voting machines don't need battery power if they're plugged into the wall.

"I can apologize again but I think voters are tired of hearing an apology," said Election Commission Board Chair Liz Crum. "But we genuinely mean it. We don't want it to happen again."

Following the report review, the board went into executive session.

The board meets later this month to ask Hamm questions once they've reviewed his initial report.  In the meantime, Hamm will continue his investigation.

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  • Who is responsible for Richland County's election meltdown?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    Richland County's legislative delegation
    110 votes
    Lillian McBride, director of the election commission
    1546 votes
    The employee who misinterpreted the voting machine spreadsheet
    41 votes
    Nobody had the power to prevent the problems that occurred
    31 votes
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