Friday, August 22 2014 8:13 AM EDT2014-08-22 12:13:32 GMT
Photo of armed robbery suspect (Source: University of South Carolina Division of Law Enforcement and Safety
A USC student was robbed at gunpoint early Thursday morning, according to the University of South Carolina Police Department. The student was walking through the USC Horseshow around 12:40 a.m. when heMore >>
A USC student was robbed at gunpoint early Thursday morning, according to the University of South Carolina Police Department.More >>
Friday, August 22 2014 12:42 PM EDT2014-08-22 16:42:01 GMT
Elgin police need help locating two men who they say broke into a car wash in the area and stole money from the control boxes. Investigators say the suspects broke into the Elgin Car Wash on Rose StreetMore >>
Elgin police need help locating two men who they say broke into a car wash in the area and stole money from the control boxes.More >>
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The House has taken a new approach to passing a bill
designed to prevent South Carolina's elections from being thrown into chaos
The proposal sent Friday to the Senate would both create a statewide model
for county election boards, to hopefully remove the threat of chaos, and give
the State Election Commission oversight over those 46 boards.
That new authority could improve elections and ensure everyone's vote is
counted, state elections spokesman Chris Whitmire said Friday.
Currently, if a county isn't following the law or voluntarily complying withpolicy, the agency can only inform local officials and legislators of a potential problem.
"They are their own entity. We can't compel them to do anything,"
A panel of House and Senate members had been working on a compromise over
different versions of a bill on the governance of county election boards.
But that tentative compromise required a two-thirds vote in each chamber, a
difficult proposition in the Senate. So the House instead attached the
compromise to a separate election-related bill and, after a unanimous vote
Thursday, returned that amended measure to the Senate. A simple majority
approval in that chamber would send it to the governor's desk.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Larry Martin said he doesn't care how the fix
passes, as long as it does before the legislative session ends June 5. Voters
go to the polls five days later.
Martin, R-Pickens, has repeatedly urged his colleagues to act quickly,
noting a verdict on a lawsuit filed in March could jeopardize the primaries. The
South Carolina Public Interest Foundation has asked a judge to throw out a 2008
state law that allows each county election office to organize differently.
The attorney general's office believes that law violates the state
constitution's ban against single-county legislation. If a court affirms the
top prosecutor's opinion, there could be no one left locally to conduct
elections, Martin has said. Lawmakers also fear a post-election verdict could
overturn the results.
Legislators don't want to take that chance two years after a lawsuit against
a single candidate resulted in about 250 people being kicked off primary
The House's initial version of the fix allowed counties to continue
separating the oversight of elections and voter registration, but Martin doubts
that would pass constitutional muster. The Senate version forced a merger,
providing a single governance structure for the counties to follow.
The compromise adopts the Senate's merger requirement, while including the
House provision that gives more authority to the State Election Commission. The
compromise as passed Thursday further specifies the corrective steps if a
county isn't complying with election laws or state policies.
Such accountability in elections is long overdue, said Rep. Alan Clemmons,
The proposal would require post-election audits, bolstering what's already
Since 2010, the state agency has audited electronic voting data, but
counties participate voluntarily.
A timely audit would have caught Richland County's incorrect vote totals
before the November 2010 and 2013 election results were certified, Whitmire
said. In 2010, more than 1,100 votes weren't counted in that county. In 2013,
more than 1,000 votes weren't part of the certified total. While those votes
didn't impact the elections' outcome, "our mission is to count every vote.
Our motto is every vote matters," he said.
The bill's authority also would have enabled the state agency to assist
Richland County following its long lines of 2012, to formally recommend how to
prevent that from happening again, Whitmire said. Voters stood in line for up
to six hours because voting machines weren't properly distributed among the