Opinion sought on who can fire Richland election director

ashain@thestate.comNovember 20, 2012 

— A state senator has asked the S.C. attorney general for an opinion on who can fire Richland County elections director Lillian McBride.

The 2011 law that merged the county elections and voter registration boards said the first director would be chosen by the Richland County legislative delegation with the county election board hiring successors. The law also says the director “serves at the pleasure of the board.”

Sen. John Scott Jr., D-Richland, said he wants clarification from the attorney general on who controls the fate of McBride’s $86,344-a-year job.

McBride has come under fire for the county not having enough voting machines on Election Day in its 124 precincts, with many machines broken down. It resulted in waits from three to seven hours for thousands of voters, with unknown numbers leaving in frustration before ever casting a ballot. Vote counting was plagued with more mechanical problems and difficulties accurately tabulating absentee ballots, as well as legal challenges.

The delegation has scheduled a hearing for Monday to question McBride and county election board chairwoman Liz Crum. The attorney general’s office said an opinion on Scott’s question should come next week.

“I’m interested in getting to the bottom of it,” Scott said.

He did not comment on whether McBride, who headed the county voters registration office before taking her new post, should be fired.

Rep. Mia Butler Garrick, D-Richland, said McBride must be held accountable.

“The director must accept responsibility … for the senseless injustices that occurred on (Nov. 6),” Garrick wrote in a letter sent to the delegation last week, “and as the legislative delegation that appointed her to the position for which she was obviously not prepared, so must we.”

The State Election Commission met Monday and made Richland County's results official, 13 days after voters cast ballots. Commissioners certified results in the rest of the state last week.

The Associated Press contributed.

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