Interim Richland Co. elections director: 'There's no such thing as a perfect election'

Published: Jun. 11, 2014 at 5:29 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 20, 2014 at 12:35 PM EDT
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Richland Co. elections employees taking calls from voters and precincts Tuesday
Richland Co. elections employees taking calls from voters and precincts Tuesday

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - One hour into the primary election, officials with the Richland County Voter Registration and Election Office said they had problems at more than 20 precincts.

Interim Director Samuel Selph said a big part of the problem was poll workers not showing up for duty at polling stations. He also said there were some technical difficulties with laptops and some voting machines, but as far as he knows, those problems have been fixed.

"At this time things are going well," said Selph. "We've had a few hiccups as my staff always cautions me to say. As people were calling in earlier this morning, we had a few machines down, we had some workers not showing up—we had a couple of schools, two or three schools that did not open at 7:00."

At the Westminster precinct, poll workers reported two laptops not functioning. And at the Lake Carolina precinct, a laptop malfunctioned when it was turned on, and the poll workers were unable to reach the technician to fix the problem immediately.

"We've had some machines down," Selph said. "We've had some laptop issues, but as it stands right now, those issues are being corrected as we speak. The phone was ringing off the hook right at 7 o'clock, but they have quieted tremendously."

Several precincts had poll workers not show up, which included Spring Valley High School, Longcreek, Lincolnshire, Ward 5, Ward 3, Bluff Estate, Friarsgate 1 and Ward 30.

"At Spring Valley High School, the poll clerk did not show up at the requisite time and that was the problem there, that's been corrected," said Selph. "We had an issue at Ward 14 – that has been corrected, we've had some issues at some other places that have been corrected. These are the kinds of things that you experience on election morning."

WIS found out Ward 14 had a machine down this morning. Other precincts that experienced an issue this morning included Old Friarsgate, Eastover, Edgewood, two Dutchfork precincts, a North Springs precinct, Gadsden, two Brandon precincts, a Springville precinct, Ward 31, Ridgeview, Ward 21, Wildewood and Riverwalk.

"Usually the first couple of hours you have all kinds of little mechanical situations, and this morning is not different from any other opening on Election Day," he said. "As the day progresses, you will see things just basically smooth over a little bit, and we are hoping we will have a very successful Election Day."

Officials with the Richland County Voter Registration and Election office will provide updates throughout the day.

Richland County's Voter Registration and Election Office has been under scrutiny since the November 2012 election when some voters waited several hours to cast their ballots. The office's practices were the subject of an investigation. The office has been without consistent leadership since the 2012 election.

"We were hoping that we could get through this, and we will get through this without too much of a fan fare," Selph said. "There's no such thing as a perfect election, and we don't expect to have one today, but we wanted to have it as flawless as possible -- and we're still within that range of having a flawless election."

In Lexington County, Voter Registration and Elections Director Dean Crepes said things are moving along with a slow, but steady turnout at polling stations. All precincts there opened at 7 a.m. as scheduled.

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