COLUMBIA, SC — Five more lawmakers on the Richland County Legislative Delegation said Tuesday that embattled county election director Lillian McBride should step down or that they have no confidence in her ability to run a county election.
Democratic Sen. Joel Lourie, Rep. James Smith and Rep. Beth Bernstein said in interviews McBride should leave her $89,124 post.
Also, Rep. Kirkman Finlay, R-Richland, and Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, announced Tuesday that if the delegation were to hold a vote about McBride, they would vote no confidence.
Those five join Democrat Reps. Mia McLeod and Joe McEachern as well as Republicans Sen. John Courson and Rep. Nathan Ballentine, who have already urged McBrides ouster.
That makes nine of the 16-member delegation who now want McBride to go. The Nov. 6 election was marked by voter lines of up to five hours or more, an unexplained shortage of voting machines and uncounted numbers of people who didnt vote because of unusually long waits.
McBride, who was unanimously appointed to her post by the delegation in 2011, could not be reached for comment. At the time she was hired, she had not run an election. McBride has declined to answer questions from reporters since Nov. 6.
The delegation meets at 2 p.m. today in the Senate Gressette building.The main topic: McBride.
On Tuesday, McBrides lead supporter, delegation chairman Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Richland, said, I am working hard to find a common ground approach that would restore confidence in the election process and that would be fair to someone who has given 23 years of her life to serving citizens of this county.
Jackson said any delegation action on McBride would have no impact. The power to discipline or remove McBride is vested in the Richland County Election Commission, the five-member citizen board that oversees McBrides office of Elections and Voter Registration, Jackson said.
We have no authority and no control, Jackson said. We appoint the election board, and the attorney general said its up to the board to take whatever action must be taken.
Nor can the delegation fire commission members in the middle of their terms, Jackson said, adding he wants to see a final investigative report on the elections failures before taking a stand.
Last month, the commission hired Steve Hamms law firm to investigate the causes of the multiple breakdowns in the county Nov. 6 election.
In a Dec. 6 preliminary report, Hamm placed most of the blame on McBride and her staff for failing to place enough voting machines in the countys 124 precincts on Election Day. According to Hamm, the county had 958 machines under McBrides control, but her office placed only about 575 in precincts on Election Day, despite predictions of a large turnout.
Lawmakers who came out against McBride on Tuesday said they were influenced by Mondays surprise resignation from the election commission of its longtime member and current chairwoman, Liz Crum.
Crum said in a letter of resignation released Tuesday that she had lost confidence in McBrides ability to lead the elections office. She said her decision was based on observations of McBrides actions on Election Day as well as Hamms initial report.
Crums resignation came after the commission met behind closed doors but took no action afterward regarding McBride.
Liz Crum's letter of resignation
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Clif LeBlanc contributed to this story.