Former elections director meets with SLED investigators again

Published: Feb. 28, 2014 at 9:24 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 10, 2014 at 7:33 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Howard Jackson, the now former Richland County elections director, met with SLED investigators for a second time Friday and gave them further information.

SLED spokesperson Thom Berry confirmed the second meeting and said the agency will review the information they've received from Jackson with Fifth Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson to see if a more thorough investigation needs to be conducted.

Jackson met with SLED on Thursday and turned over potential evidence that could be used in an investigation against the county's Board of Elections and Voter Registration.

The five-member board has come under fire once again after it voted 4 to 1 to remove Jackson as the elections director and replace him with a fellow board member, Samuel Selph.

Now there are legitimate questions as to if the board is even a constitutional governing body.

In August, a judge's ruling declared the board to be unconstitutional. No appeal was filed, and the Richland County Legislative Delegation has known for months that it has to split the Voter Registration office and the Elections office into two separate entities.

State Rep. Joe Neal said it will take some time to separate these offices, but he believes it can run under one board.

But if the board is unconstitutional, how can it recruit new members?

Neal says until the offices can be split, the board is still in effect and needs to fill its vacancies, so they're advertising for Selph's seat and the likelihood chairman Allen Dowdy will not continue when his term is up this coming month.

Members of the board were served with legal action that asks the courts to stop all action of the board just 12 days before a special election in Blythewood.

Other delegation members, like Rep. Kirkman Finlay, say the issue should have been dealt with before now.

"We've done this three times now, an alien could see, it's not getting better," said Finlay. "You know the old joke from Albert Einstein, the definition of insanity, doing the same thing, over and over again and expecting different results. We've had three horrible elections. Why don't we fix it?"

Two pieces of legislation could undo everything and put the two offices under the management of either the county or the state.

"In our case, in Richland County, it would probably be for the better to make some changes and to turn that over to the State Elections Commission and be done with it," said Neal.

Time is of the essence and may have already run out to have a new board in place for primaries this summer.

"We may have six or eight days before the 90 days close for the June primaries and it's silly," said Finlay.

Finlay says the issues in Richland County are a prime reason for statewide election reform here. What that should look like he wasn't certain, but says it's something the state legislature needs to consider this session.

Copyright 2014 WIS. All rights reserved.