Long lines, incorrect ballots in Richland Co. add to voter frustration in SC primary

Long lines, incorrect ballots in Richland Co. add to voter frustration in SC primary
Long lines, incorrect ballots in Richland Co. add to voter frustration in SC primary (Source: WIS)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - As voters cast their ballots in the primary elections in Richland County Tuesday, some of them reported problems and hang-ups at the polls.

From long wait times to voters being given incorrect ballots, the problems appeared to stem from a lack of poll workers and consolidating polling places during the COVID 19 pandemic.

Terry Graham, the interim director of the Richland County Elections Board said he estimates as many as "50 percent" of poll workers in the county backed out, some of them at the last minute, because of COVID 19 concerns.

Accordingly, the shortage led to long lines at some precincts, and some frustration among those who showed up to vote.

"Not enough poll workers," Graham said in a phone conversation with WIS. "But we managed to get by"

Graham said he fielded approximately 15-20 phone calls throughout the morning- from people who reported long lines, while others reported receiving ballots with incorrect races on them.

“We did fail to give people the right ballots” Graham admitted, saying the issue stems from poor training and poll workers who aren’t following directions.

"We need to train poll workers better. Some of them just won't listen."

Graham further said the county will work to recruit new poll workers before the general election in November while redoubling training efforts among existing poll workers.

Graham said the complaints from voters were tapering off as the day wore on however he said as of 7 p.m. as polls closed, long lines were still reported at some locations.

"I understand and sympathize with those who are frustrated", he said.

With a record number of absentee ballots cast in the primary, Graham said the counting has been underway throughout the day.

Graham said the county will “make every effort to get the ballots counted tonight.”

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