Columbia preparing voters for new November elections - - Columbia, South Carolina

Columbia preparing voters for new November elections


The City of Columbia wants voters to be prepared for the upcoming municipal elections. They held a news conference Monday morning to discuss what changes voters will face when they head to the polls.

The message from the Municipal Election Commission and the League of Women Voters is simple.

"We want people to get out and vote; your vote counts; every voter matters," said Martha Roblee.

And every Columbia voter will be doing it a bit differently this year. Monday's news conference was meant to increase turnout for municipal elections which, historically, has been around 15- to 20 percent.

Columbia residents will cast their vote on Nov. 5 this year instead of a normal April election.

"When the elections were in the spring, very few people voted," said first amendment attorney Jay Bender. "That meant that a lot of people who complained about the City of Columbia had not participated in the selection of their leaders."

City Council voted last year to move Election Day, saying people more closely associated voting with the month of November.

As they try to get people to the polls, the County, who will administer the election, has worked to make sure they avoid problems. Last year's hours-long wait at many precincts has prompted changes.

"We've had preventative maintenance done on all our voting machines," said Howard Jackson, director of elections and voter registration. "The ones that needed repairs, we had the company that manufactures the machines in town last week so they could do the work on site. So we are confident in the machines."

Jackson says they'll have every one of their 941 machines out and ready to work. They'll also run three new satellite offices for absentee voting at City Hall, Irmo, and in the Northeast.

"I want to be clear on this: there's no such thing as a perfect election, but we're doing everything we can to eliminate those things that we can control," said Jackson.

But before you use them, you'll need a photo ID, a requirement of South Carolina's controversial new law.

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