The Richland County legislative delegation was on a fact-finding mission Monday to learn more about why their county’s election was wracked by problems.
One revelation was that there were not enough machines at precincts because an employee at the Richland County election office had tampered with the spreadsheet that determined how many voting machines would go to each precinct. Handwritten changes had been made to the official delivery forms. Liz Crum, county election commission chair says they do not know who is responsible for that.
After three and a half hours of questions, the lawmakers had only a few answers to why the Nov. 6 election seemed a perfect storm of mistakes and malfunctions. Questions centered around six-hour lines in some precincts, why so many machines broke down, why there were too few machines in busy polling places and why some ballots turned up late.
Most of those answers will come later.
County election officials and director Lillian McBride said they have begun their investigation and audit of all that happened before and during Election Cay. The Richland County election commission’s attorney Steve Hamm is in charge of the report and says it will take 30 days to complete. Hamm says his investigation will be thorough– down to the temperatures of where the machines are stored and how that might affect battery life.
The legislative delegation, responding to constituent and media outcry, called for an expedited hearing despite the commission’s request for more time. Senator Darrell Jackson (D-Columbia) reminded House and Senate lawmakers of that when they became impatient with the lack of information.
Jackson was eager to address the issue of a possible conspiracy, however.
AUDIO: Jackson asked McBride about her connections to the penny sales tax vote and other charges made by disgruntled citizen groups and legislators.
The delegation, and a crowded room of observers and press, did get an apology read by McBride.
AUDIO: McBride apology
That is not enough for some of the lawmakers, though. State Rep. Mia Butler Garrick (D-Columbia) said she has more questions after the hearing: “If we are still on a fact-finding mission 20 days after the election, when does that end? Nobody could tell me about a legitimate plan that’s in place. Everybody talks about moving forward and apologizing, but where’s the accountability? I did not get that question answered today.”
Jackson said the delegation will meet again on Dec. 6 and may have a few more answers.