Group to Call for New Elections Amid 'Suspicion'
A group of candidates, voters and public officials say that failure to hold a new election would "betray the trust of citizens for Richland County to move forward with this controversial tax increase."
In the wake of the disastrous elections and legal actions taken against the Richland County elections commission, a group will call for another election to take place with more accurate voting methods.
Led by Michael Letts, candidate who lost in Richland County Council 8, and Rod Shealy Jr., the group will present six points of contention at a press conference at 11:30 a.m at the Richland County Elections office on Hampton Street.
In addition to waits of three, four and five hours — which caused thousands of voters to not cast ballots, according to organizers — there have been doubts raised about why voting machines were lacking during such a crucial vote on a $1.2 billion sales tax referendum, which passed.
Patch on Friday reported several connections between pro-sales-tax forces and the elections director and a legislator who has oversight of the elections board.
Letts said he also has concerns about the objectivity of Election Board Chairwoman Liz Crum. Crum's employer, the McNair Law Firm, has a stake in the bonding that will take place from the new tax, he said.
On Thursday, a lower court judge ruled in favor of South Carolina Democrats for a recount of all votes. On Friday, a South Carolina Supreme Court judge overruled that and halted the recount shortly after it began. Both sides are due written arguments to the judge by Tuesday at noon.
According to a press release from Letts and Shealy, the points to be discussed are as follows:
- Richland County government made a decision to use fewer voting machines than required by law, and the resulting long lines caused thousands of voters to be unable to participate in the election process
- Many voters say they initially voted straight-ticket and then voted for a candidate of a different party, only to have the machines correct their votes back to straight-ticket
- The *reported* proximity of the Elections Director to a leader of the pro-sales tax increase campaign raises enough questions that her decision regarding voting machines are, rightly or wrongly, viewed with suspicion
- Many of the voting machine shortages occurred in areas which, in the opinion of tax increase opponents, many voters were likely to oppose the tax increase
- The only appropriate action of recourse is to hold new, valid elections. Citizens deserve the peace of mind that election results -- particularly in elections that affect the tax rates of the lowest-income citizens -- reflect the true will of the voters.
- If the new elections are NOT held, it would betray the trust of citizens for Richland County to move forward with this controversial tax increase. Richland County cannot deny citizens the ability to participate and still proceed with a tax increase which is adamantly opposed by roughly half of the citizens.