Chairman of Richland’s election board gives up seat

dhinshaw@thestate.comFebruary 27, 2014 

— Allen Dowdy is not seeking re-election to the Richland County Board of Elections & Voter Registration board, which has been under public scrutiny since 2012’s election disaster.

Dowdy, who has served on the board since 1996, is chairman.

Thursday, the Richland County Legislative Delegation sent out a notice seeking volunteers to fill two vacant seats on the five-member board. One was created when Samuel Selph resigned Wednesday to become interim director of the election office.

The other was created when Dowdy notified legislators two months ago that he did not want to be reappointed, said state Rep. Joe Neal, D-Richland, chairman of the delegation. Dowdy’s term expires in March. An effort to reach him Thursday was unsuccessful.

“I think he just wore out,” said state Rep. Jimmy Bales, D-Richland.

Bales, who leads the delegation’s appointments committee, said the group is looking for people with a “working knowledge and understanding of the election process.”

He said he’d like to see an attorney on the board as well.

Dowdy has been the reluctant spokesman for the board, under fire for the November 2012 election, when the office didn’t provide enough voting machines and some voters waited in line for up to seven hours to cast their ballots.

Ever since, the board has been criticized by some observers for holding lengthy closed-door meetings that typically end without announcing what was discussed.

“It’s absurd,” said voter Bob Liming, who has taken to attending monthly board meetings.

“Unless you allow the sunshine in, the public is not – with good reason – ever going to trust anything you do,” Liming said.

Members of the elections board are paid a stipend of at least $1,500 a year, said James Brown, director of the delegation office.

Applicants may contact Kim Janha at (803) 576-1907 or janhak@rcgov.us.

The deadline to apply is 1 p.m. Thursday.

Reach Hinshaw at (803) 771-8641.

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