RICHLAND ELECTION MESS

Delegation delays meeting on board vacancy

jmonk@thestate.comJune 3, 2013 

Richland County Elections Director Lillian McBride apologized to Richland County voters before addressing the Richland County legislative delegation during a Nov. 26 hearing about what went wrong in November's Richland County elections.

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

The Richland County legislative delegation is postponing its meeting until next week, when members are expected to elect a new chairman and fill a vacancy on the five-member county Elections and Voter Registration Board.

It is unknown whether any of the 17 delegation members will push to reopen the search for a new Richland County elections director. Last week, five members said they want the elections board to start over, noting the whole process since Election Day has failed to recapture the public’s trust. The delegation appoints board members but under state law cannot dictate who the board hires as director.

Senators and representatives were supposed to meet Tuesday, but the meeting was delayed because the Senate goes into session at 10 a.m. in this final week of the legislative session.

The delegation will now meet at noon June 11.

A new chairman is expected to be elected to replace Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Richland. Jackson’s term was extended six months ago, during hearings into Richland County’s Nov. 6 election, one of the most botched elections in state history. Jackson was a staunch supporter of then-elections director Lillian McBride, who was later demoted but still works in the elections office as a deputy director.

Rep. Joe Neal, D-Richland, is said to be a leading candidate for the job, but Neal declined comment Monday.

In the past month, the elections board picked Howard Jackson, Orangeburg County’s election director, to replace McBride.

However, on May 19, The State newspaper disclosed Howard Jackson has several jobs he didn’t tell county officials about when they agreed to hire him. Jackson is working 93 hours a week, according to federal and county records.

The disclosure about Jackson’s work week followed an earlier revelation that he also failed to alert the selection committee about a SLED investigation involving the Orangeburg County election office he oversees. That SLED investigation found no wrongdoing.

Jackson has declined to discuss his job-juggling, and county officials have not withdrawn their job offer to him. County officials are said to be discussing several issues with Jackson, including whether he must quit some of his current jobs and whether he will have to move to Richland County, state lawmakers have said. The new director is expected to be paid between $75,000 and $85,000 a year.

In January, former county elections director McBride, who oversaw the Nov. 6 general election fiasco, was demoted to deputy voter registration director. Her salary was cut from $89,100 to $74,600.

In the Nov. 6 election, due to poor planning and insufficient numbers of voting machines, hundreds if not thousands of Richland’s 244,000 voters stood in line for more than five hours, with countless others leaving in frustration without casting a ballot.

Reach Monk at (803) 403-5842.

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