RICHLAND COUNTY, SC — A second finalist for the Richland elections director job has dropped out, leaving just one candidate.
Sumter Election Commission director Patricia Jefferson said she sent a letter to the Richland County Election Commission over the weekend, bowing out of the running to lead an office damaged by a lack of public confidence.
I resigned from the race for that position over the weekend due to personal reasons, Jefferson said Tuesday.
The only remaining candidate for the position, formerly held by Lillian McBride, is Orangeburg County Election Commission director Howard Jackson.
The Richland County Board of Elections & Voter Registration, which will make the selection, meets Wednesday.
Well look at the process we have and see how we should go forward, board member Adell Adams said Tuesday.
Adams said she was notified of Jeffersons decision Monday evening by interim elections director Jasper Salmond.
Adams said Salmonds call to her came shortly after she learned that Adam Ragan, director of elections in Gaston County, N.C., had announced his withdrawal, saying he had decided the Richland County job wasnt a good fit.
Adams said she was disappointed. I wish they had stayed in the race. We had three good candidates.
Ragan said his decision had nothing to do with his lack of certification to conduct elections in North Carolina, a credential he wasnt eligible to receive there until working in a county office for three years.
Likewise, Jefferson said certification issues did not lead to her decision to drop out of contention.
Jackson, the remaining finalist, was investigated in 2008 for election-law violations involving alleged absentee ballot irregularities, according to records from the State Law Enforcement Division. Employees in Jacksons office told SLED they had advised their boss that he was violating election laws and that he directed them to follow his orders nevertheless, SLED records show. But SLED found no wrongdoing, and the solicitors office closed the case without filing charges.
The election board is looking for a new director after McBride was demoted following Richland Countys debacle of an election Nov. 6. A shortage of voting machines left voters waiting in line for hours. Many left the polls without voting, leading to appeals and lawsuits.
The new director likely will receive a salary between $75,000 and $85,000.
Contributing: Staff writer Dawn Hinshaw, The Item