What do uncounted votes, long lines have to do with dead babies?

Posted by Cindi Ross Scoppe on April 7, 2014 

Then-Elections Director Lillian McBride addresses the Richland County legislative delegation during a hearing about what went wrong in the 2012 election.

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

When I was working on my Sunday column about concerns about the Department of Social Services, I came across an article that described the dysfunctional system we had in place at the time of Travis Caudle’s death in 1991. Here’s an excerpt:

There is no single DSS ; instead, there are 47 separate departments of social services in South Carolina — one for the whole state and one for each county. Those agencies are fiercely independent, and the teeming mother ship that is the state office exerts little control over its satellites.

Instead, the 46 county agencies report to their local legislative delegations, just as the state office reports to the Legislature as a whole. But despite clinging to its power over DSS , the Legislature can’t control the agency, either.

“Any management expert will tell you you’ve got to have control,” said Joe Casper, a retired FBI official who headed up the state’s first Child Fatalities Review Committee. “These damn legislators don’t want to give up that control.”

If you take out “DSS” and replace it with “Election Commission,” you have a spot-on description of the way our state handles elections.

The difference is that we dismantled that Social Services system more than two decades ago. We still have that election system. Which is why we still have Lillian McBride and seven-hour waits to vote and ballots that go uncounted and unconstitutional election commissioners firing election directors and replacing them with unqualified fellow commissioners.

I don’t mean to imply that making people wait in line, or even failing to count their votes, compares to sending children back home to parents who already have nearly killed them. But it is a problem, and it is a problem that legislators learned more than two decades ago how to address. But still refuse to do so.

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