Voters at Dutch Fork Middle School said they had waited in line for nearly five hours. A poll manager at the site said Dutch Fork normally has 10-15 machines, but only had four functioning machines on Tuesday morning. Similar five-hour waits were reported at Keenan High School in Columbia and at the Wildewood precinct in Northeast Columbia.
“Someone needs to lose their job over this machine shortage,” Democratic operative Tyler Jones tweeted as he waited in line at the Wildewood precinct. Jones said it took him five hours to vote.
Columbia talk radio host Kelly Nash told his listeners that he had to step out of line at Ridgeview High School (also located in Northeast Columbia) after three hours so he could get to his show on time. John Hazzard, a state Senate staff attorney, tweeted that Pinehurst Park in Columbia was down to one machine as of 11 a.m. after others malfunctioned. Hazzard said it took four hours for him to cast his ballot.
Richland County elections officials say they have 124 precincts and roughly 1,000 machines. State Election Commission guidelines recommend one machine per every 250 voters (the website Patch has a breakdown of each precinct here). County spokeswoman Stephany Snowden said the county has the same number of machines as it did for the 2008 election. She blamed higher voter turnout for the delays.
However, Dutch Fork poll workers said they had fewer machines this year than 2008. Voters at other precincts agreed.
South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian blamed the South Carolina Election Commission for not providing enough machines. “This is a further example of where necessary services provided by government are not being provided by (Governor) Nikki Haley’s government,” he told South Carolina Radio Network, “Why should you have to stand in line four hours to exercise your right to vote? Nowhere in the Constitution does it say the right to vote shall be painful.”