COLUMBIA, SC The Municipal Election Commission certified Thursday morning the results of the strong-mayor referendum – defeated Tuesday by voters – emphasizing that all votes had been counted.
The commission wanted to make sure mistakes made in last month’s election were not repeated. Hundreds of absentee votes were missed in the Nov. 5 Columbia city races because a personal electronic ballot, which held the votes, was not read.
During the certification Thursday at the county office, city Commissioner Jay Bender asked Howard Jackson, director of the Richland County elections office, if all of the votes had been counted and all of the electronic ballots had been read.
Jackson said all had been counted and read and mentioned a precertification audit, which was done as a checks and balances measure to make sure no mistakes were made.
City Commissioner Susan Kuo also was present. The city’s Municipal Election Commission chairman Byron Gipson, who is also an attorney, was not present because he had to be in court.
The two commissioners in attendance appeared satisfied with the new steps taken for accuracy.
“I definitely think that methods have been taken to provide the necessary assurance that all votes have been counted,” Kuo said.
Bender said: “Today we’ve been assured that all the votes have been counted.”
Commissioners Bender and Kuo counted a vote that was labeled fail-safe due to a change of address by the voter. The added vote increased those opposing the referendum by one vote, to 6,685, and the total number of votes by one, to 11,740.
Bender also inquired about two voters, a couple, who attempted to vote absentee but the post office did not deliver the ballots and returned them to the voters.
The couple’s votes were counted because they went to their precinct on Election Day and voted, Jackson said. He said his office is investigating the issue with the post office.
The total number of ballots cast totaled 68 more votes than the total votes for or against the issue because some voters participated in the election but did not vote for one side or the other, Jackson said. That’s not uncommon, Jackson said, as some people don’t want to miss an election.
Reach Cope at (803) 771-8657 or on Twitter @cassielcope.