Richland County Election Commission looks back on general election, learns from experience

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 1:30 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Richland County Election Commission met virtually Wednesday to take a look back at the general election.

They discussed some of the positives they saw and ways they can change moving forward.

Many on the board said from what they saw this was a successful general election.

Richland County Director of Voter Registration and Elections Alexandria Stephens spoke about those successes, but also looked into what could have been done to improve voting experiences moving forward.

“Increasing the amount of satellite locations did help overall increase the turnout,” said Stephens. “It also helped to eliminate the lines on election day at the polling locations. Which caused people not to have to wait as long to vote.”

Stephens adding she believes the earlier they can prepare for an election the better and says she wants to tailor that planning process to specifically fit Richland County.

“I think instead of recruiting temporary staff maybe four weeks prior, we can do it 6-8 weeks prior to an election. That way they can become more familiar with the process,” she explained.

The panel also heard from poll workers and watchers who wanted to bring attention to issues they saw at their perspective polling locations. One watcher says she had concerns about certain interactions she says she saw between poll workers and voters.

“I knew that was not what y all laid out as far as the rules in the handbook, I thought well this cant continue for the rest of my time here,” said the watcher.

Another poll worker told the commission about her issues regarding the training of poll workers in the county.

“Following up on communication, I felt like I wasn’t getting the emails that I needed to do what I needed to do,” she said. “Honestly I think my name might have gotten lost in the shuffle.”

The Richland County Election Commission saying they plan to look into each of those concerns individually and hope to learn from their experiences moving forward.

“We will take advantage of the opportunity to talk through lessons learned and how those lessons learned can make the process even better, more effective, and more efficient,” Election Board Chair Dr. Charles Austin said.

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