Is embattled Richland County elections director stepping down?

jmonk@thestate.comDecember 19, 2012 

Richland County Elections Director Lillian McBride address the Richland County legislative delegation during a hearing about what went wrong in the Nov. 6 Richland County elections.

C. ALUKA BERRY — caberry@thestate.com Buy Photo

A member of the Richland County Legislative Delegation said Wednesday that embattled county elections chief Lillian McBride has agreed to step down from her post, effective Jan. 8.

The mid-afternoon comments by Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, as he left a closed meeting of the Richland County Legislative Delegation prompted many television and newspaper reporters, including one from The State, to report that McBride was stepping down.

But shortly before 5 p.m., McBride sent out an email to reporters, implying – but not saying specifically – that Rutherford was wrong.

“Dear valued members of the press: This is to inform you that I have not submitted my resignation to the Board of Elections and Voter Registration or to the members of the Richland County Legislative Delegation. Any discussion of this is entirely premature and erroneous,” McBride wrote.

Meanwhile, the other dozen or so members of the county Legislative Delegation refused any comment about McBride as they left their closed delegation meeting attended by McBride’s attorney, John Nichols.

This frosty silence contrasted markedly with the outspokenness of most members about McBride since Nov. 6, when she oversaw an election many said was the most bungled county election in modern state history.

Most members have been severely critical of McBride’s handling of the election, which was marked by a severe shortage of voting machines at the county’s 124 precincts and long lines with waits of five hours or more. Other problems included missing ballots and numerous inoperable machines.

Wednesday morning, The State published a front-page article in which nine of the delegation’s 16 members were quoted by name as saying they believed McBride was unfit to lead the elections office.

McBride did not attend Wednesday’s executive session delegation meeting, held at the Gressette Senate office building on State House grounds.

At the meeting’s end, Nichols hurried from the room, declining to comment and saying only that he was going to meet with McBride.

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