Rep. Ballentine: Richland County elections director should be replaced

abeam@thestate.comNovember 30, 2012 

— State Rep. Nathan Ballentine, R-Richland, said Friday officials should fire elections director Lillian McBride.

“If the other members of the Richland Delegation and the County Election Board listen to our citizens, I believe they will come to the same conclusion,” Ballentine said in a news release.

He is the first member of the county’s delegation to publicly call for her dismissal.

McBride has been criticized for her office’s handling of the Nov. 6 general election, after a balloting mess that prompted lawsuits, intervention by a circuit court and the state’s highest court and triggered election protests. Some Richland County voters had to wait in line for up to seven hours to vote and, in some cases, cast their ballots well past midnight. Other voters, faced with massive lines, left polling places in frustration without casting ballots.

It took Richland County elections officials more than a week to certify the results. In one race, County Council District 9, officials initially ruled incumbent Val Hutchinson had won only to discover later she had lost to Democratic challenger Julie-Ann Dixon.

It is unclear who has the authority to fire McBride: the Richland County legislative delegation, to whom she directly reports, or the county Election Commission. An Attorney General’s opinion earlier this week said a court likely would side with the county election board. Thursday, Election Commission members voted to accept that opinion.

Ballentine suggested other changes he said would help future elections.

“Personnel changes are simply not enough however, and I believe my colleagues and I should consider legislation that will directly hold local election commissions more accountable,” Ballentine said. “Additionally, I think we need to reduce the size of each precinct in our county. As a state official, I will work on legislation to do just that.”

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