Frustrated Richland Co. voters argue for ballots to be counted after chaos during primary

Frustrated Richland Co. voters argue for ballots to be counted after chaos during primary

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Several Richland County voters are expressing their frustration with Tuesday’s primary elections.

On Thursday morning, the Richland County Board of Voter Registration and Elections held it’s provisional ballot hearing, where dozens of voters showed up to argue for their vote to be counted.

The meeting started in a conference room and had to be moved to council chambers because of how many people showed up to voice their concerns. More than 100 ballots were in question and the board voted to not count more than half of them because people voted at the wrong precinct.

“By the time I stood in line and got to the actual table where they looked me up and told me I was in the wrong place, the other precinct was closed," said Tiffany Jameson.

Another woman left the room in tears, saying she’s voted in every election since she turned 18 and she accidentally voted at North Springs Elementary instead of North Springs Community Center.

"It's very hard because I did hear her loud voice on her way out and it touched me to my heart that we couldn’t count her ballot, but the law is the law," said Interim Director of Voter Registration & Elections Terry Graham.

Graham acknowledged that a lot went wrong Tuesday and he said the voters of Richland County deserve better.

“I should be held accountable and not only me. My staff should be held accountable, poll workers should be held accountable, and I do hold myself accountable. I hold my staff and all the poll workers who did stuff that was against their training, I hold them accountable. So, those people that came here today, I commend them for that and I thank them for coming because I want people to hold me accountable," said Graham.

Graham also attributes some of Tuesday’s chaos to poll workers backing out at the last minute and old equipment, saying the county needs to purchase 260 new laptops because the ones they have are old and slow. Richland County saw 25% voter turnout, which Graham said is more than his team anticipated.

Many want to know what's being done to make sure these same issues don’t happen again in the June 23 runoff election. Graham said his team will start to call around 2,000 poll workers this evening who have worked in the past and they will also have training next week with the State Election Commission.

"We’re going to get it right and I’m going to make great strides to make sure we get things right," he explained.

Polling locations could be moved again for that election, but Graham said his team is working to make sure voters are properly notified of the changes.

Absentee voting opens Friday for the June 23 runoff election. Three democratic races qualified for a runoff. Those are for the Democratic nomination for Richland County Council in Districts 7, 8, and 10. There will not be any Republican runoffs.

The State Election Commission announced they will be stepping in to help Richland County with the June 23 runoffs.

The Board of Voter Registration and Elections plans to appoint a new director by July 1.

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