Election Commission Update
Updated: Mar 29, 2019
One of the most sacred exercises of our democracy is your right to vote. Nothing is more important than you knowing that when you cast a ballot – in any election – your vote is being counted in a competent, fair manner. Unfortunately, what we have seen from the Richland County Election Commission in recent years has caused many of us to lose faith in this process. I want to tell you what I have seen – and what I am doing to correct it.
Back in November 2018, Lexington County (and the majority of the state) reported election results from the 2018 general election around 9:00pm. However, Richland County took until nearly 5:00am the next morning to post results. For hours, we heard a variety of explanations about why it was taking so long to tabulate the results. This delay was concerning, to say the least.
Then, a few months later, it was reported that the Richland County Election Commission failed to count more than 1,000 votes in the 2018 election. A combination of errors, including a machine not being returned on election night and memory cards being turned in with incomplete ballots, led to the uncounted ballots. While we have been told these errors did not impact any election result, there is no excuse for failing to detect and correct these errors in a timely manner. Such careless oversight undermines our confidence in our elections, and it’s not the first time this has happened in Richland County.
On February 13, I went to the Richland County Election Commission board meeting to share my concerns about the board’s oversight, or lack thereof. I was troubled by what I heard as members deflected responsibly instead of proposing solutions to restore the public trust. It was clear this board was part of the problem and was not able to do the work needed to fix the election commission. You can hear part of that exchange here.
The next day, Governor McMaster fired the entire Richland County Election Commission board. I commend the Governor for acting as it gives us an opportunity to turn a new page and restore the public’s trust in this process.
When I was elected senator, I promised to take on dysfunction throughout government without fear or favor to those involved. I am working every day to keep that promise, but more work has to be done to change the culture that has acquiesced or condone this sort of malfeasance for far too long.
Also, while I always welcome the opportunity to hear from you, please be sure to communicate with the other elected leaders that represent you, specifically on the issues where you want action. Your calls, letters, and emails have a tremendous impact on elected leaders and there is too much at stake for them not to hear from you.
If you’re not sure who to contact, email me at Dick@Harpootlianforsenate.com and I would be happy to pass along contact information for your elected representatives in the General Assembly.