COLUMBIA, SC — A group of citizens and public officials Monday demanded that nearly all of last Tuesdays Richland County election results be tossed out, because of what they allege is gross mismanagement or a deliberate effort to sabotage the election process.
We are asking that the election results be invalidated, said spokesman Michael Letts, an unsuccessful candidate for the County Council District 8 seat and an outspoken opponent of the penny sales tax for transportation improvements. That tax won approval Tuesday by more than 9,000 votes.
People have been disenfranchised, Letts said.
At one point during the news conference at the county administration building downtown, Letts acknowledged that the cause of election mistakes among them a lack of voting machines could have been incompetence.
But Letts continued to insist that mismanagement of an election on such a large scale had to have been deliberate.
A week ago, Letts noted hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of residents could not cast ballots because of voting machine shortages and machine breakdowns at many of the countys 124 precincts.
Although there have been long lines and occasional machine shortages in the past, he added, no one has ever seen such a massive, systemic breakdown of the election process in Richland County.
Letts said several citizens and officials have asked the county elections office repeatedly for information on how many machines were in each precinct, and how many of those broke down. But they have received no response from the office, headed by Lillian McBride, who was appointed to the job by the countys legislative delegation.
Letts said he will be writing a letter Tuesday to Fifth Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson to ask for an investigation.
Also appearing at Mondays news conference were council members Val Hutchinson and Bill Malinowski, Don Weaver of the S.C. Association of Taxpayers and local Republican businessman Rusty DePass, a former chairman of the State Election Commission.