Columbia, SC — Incompetence, malfeasance, impropriety: They seem appropriate descriptions of the Richland County Voter Registration and Election Commission.
On Nov. 5, more than 1,100 absentee ballots went uncounted by commission employees whose salaries are paid with tax dollars provided by these voters. These “public servants” tossed my vote in an electronic trash can and arrogantly denied me my constitutional right to have my vote counted.
That’s right. I became one of those disenfranchised citizens when I voted absentee on Oct. 22. I foolishly believed I lived in a county where every vote is counted, not some backwater third-world hamlet where ballot boxes disappear and voters know better than to ask why.
It’s OK, because new election Director Howard Jackson, hired by our enlightened commission to clean up the abysmal election farce we endured in 2012, said it didn’t matter. Our votes wouldn’t have changed the results. So we deny 1,100 citizens their vote, and everyone down at Harden Street keeps their cushy taxpayer-funded paycheck?
Mistakes happen, but these election experts didn’t even know it until the State Election Commission discovered the fiasco weeks after the fact. Next election, Richland County poll workers should just hand out stickers saying, “Why Vote? We Don’t Count Them!” This will eliminate long lines, reduce costs and ensure all citizens are equally denied their voting rights.
This is America. Does anyone care that the rights of your neighbors were blatantly ignored by your government? Thousands of brave men and women gave their blood so we could vote, and we are told it doesn’t matter that the votes weren’t counted. No front-page editorial from The State on this one; I guess the editorial board thinks pushing a “strong mayor” down our throats is more important than having our votes actually count.
The Richland County legislative delegation selects the election commission and dictates how it operates, so I telephoned four state representatives and one senator; none has returned my call. All we get is a vapid letter-to-the-editor apology from Election Commission Chairman Allen Dowdy and fellow commissioners.
Richland County is awash in six- and seven-figure lawyers, but not one seems willing to clean house or guarantee the integrity of our elections and our vote.
I implore all voters in Richland County to take a page from the movie “Network” and open their windows and shout from the rooftop, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
Robert G. Liming