RICHLAND COUNTY ELECTION MESS

A voter's voice: Matt Pennington

November 25, 2012 

Fort Jackson servicemen Francis Shea, helps five-year-old Liam Cook free his foot from the clutches of the tree he was climbing. Liam was bored while waiting in line with his father who needed to vote, Tuesday at Logan Elementary School. The line of eager voters cheered as Liam reached the ground. "The kid was stuck and I was tall," says Shea, who seemed glad for a little voting day entertainment. Election Day in Richland County.

KIM KIM FOSTER-TOBIN — kkfoster@thestate.com Buy Photo

  • 5 key unanswered questions: Who was responsible for planning and implementing the election process? What does that plan say? How many voting machines were at each of the county’s precincts? What was the machine allocation plan based on? Why did machines at precincts not work? How many didn’t work and where were they? How many emergency machines were deployed and where? Which precincts received emergency technicians’ help? How did two styles of paper absentee ballots get printed?

Richland County voters endured horrifically long lines to vote Nov. 6, mostly, it appears, because there were not enough machines at polling places. Many left the polls without voting.

The county’s legislative delegation is holding a hearing Monday to determine what went wrong. The public may attend but will not be allowed to speak.

Here’s the voice of a frustrated voter on that very long day:

Matt Pennington compared the voting process to being on the television show “Survivor” – and he was losing.

Pennington voted in Columbia’s Ward 3 at Reformation Lutheran Church. He said he arrived at 8:30 a.m. and somehow ended up voting after others who arrived at 10 a.m.

At one point during the more than three-hour process, the voters were split into two lines, then “there were two tribes and people were making an alliance, and we were getting a little rowdy in the other line.”

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