Numbers still don't add up in Richland County election

Published: Dec. 10, 2012 at 9:37 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 20, 2012 at 9:37 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - There's new evidence of confusion in Richland County's now infamous Nov. 6 election as the number of people who signed in at precincts and the number of ballots that were actually cast don't match up.

The discrepancy is in the hundreds, and election experts say it shows poll workers need more training and more machines are a necessity.

When we checked the numbers comparing who signed in to how many voted, the numbers only match up in 18 percent of the precincts.

Only 22 of 124 precincts in Richland County had numbers that matched between those who signed in to vote and those who actually cast a ballot. So why the discrepancy?

"This has certainly been an election where there are all kinds of possibilities," said Steve Hamm, an attorney who lead the effort to figure out what exactly caused the Election Day headaches.

In 47 precincts, the numbers of votes cast were greater than the number who signed in, some by just a few. At Ward 21, Blythewood #2, Wildewood, and Woodfield, the difference was 10 votes or greater.

Dr. Duncan Buell says that suggests poll workers weren't doing their job, but Hamm's not convinced.

"The poll workers, bless their hearts, did amazingly well in a very difficult day and humans being what they are -- that is human -- there are going to be mistakes. That's not to say mistakes are acceptable, or we just out to ignore them, and that's one of the reasons I printed this out to show not only the board but the media is well. I'm trying to go down back behind the numbers," said Hamm.

Was it the long lines?  In 13 precincts, more than 10 voters left after signing in, but didn't vote.  At Mill Creek, 37 voters signed in but didn't cast a ballot. Twenty-nine did the same in Ward 29 and so did 27 in Lincolnshire.

"I would not expect someone who's been in line for any period of time and is signing in and waiting to vote, something fairly dramatic likely took place if that's the answer," said Hamm. "The question I'm interested in knowing is have we correctly counted the hand written signatures."

It's more discrepancies that have Hamm searching for answers.

"I haven't seen anything that suggests a conspiracy one way or another, and given the vote totals that were there, there's any number of reasons that you or I or someone else may not vote, they have nothing to do what's going on in the precinct," said Hamm.

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