Suburban Richland voters: Look for new precincts

dhinshaw@thestate.com May 2, 2014 

TIM DOMINICK — tdominick@thestate.com Buy Photo

More than 100,000 Richland County voters are being notified by mail that they may have been assigned to a new precinct.

The Richland County Elections Commission sent out the last of new voter-registration cards this week to people in 63 suburban and rural precincts that they may have been assigned to a new voting location.

In one of the biggest revisions to S.C. voting locations in years, Richland County legislators ordered thousands of voters to be assigned to new churches, schools and community centers to vote in the June 10 primary.

Richland County legislators split up the most populated precincts, creating a total of 149 voting sites, in response to long lines in November 2012.

Most affected voters live in the suburban northwest and northeast parts of the county. Many voters in Hopkins and Eastover, south of Columbia, face changes, too. Downtown precincts were not changed.

Creating 25 new precincts required altering a total of 63 precincts.

“All of those persons will be sent a new voter registration card letting them know that their polling place may or may not have changed, and that you need to examine your new card carefully,” said Samuel Selph, the county’s interim elections director.

Those with questions may call the county’s voter registration office at (803) 576-2240.

The precinct changes affect only where people go to vote; they do not alter the district lines that determine for whom they vote.

Richland County precincts were last changed in 2007.

Altogether, opening the new precincts cost the county about $469,000 in Election Day staffing, voting machines and other supplies, based on figures provided by staff Friday.

Most of the cost – about $393,000 – was for 195 voting machines, 25 of them specialized for voters with disabilities.

But changes to the precincts required recruiting additional people to work at the polls, Selph said – a total of 288 poll workers who are paid either $120 or $180 for the day, depending on their duties. Most of the cost of the additional staff, or about $36,000, will be reimbursed by the state.

All told, the county has 1,087 machines that have been tuned up and are ready to go on June 10, Selph said.

State law requires one machine for every 250 registered voters. In Richland County, that’s 1,018 machines required, he said.

Richland County voter precincts

Reach Hinshaw at (803) 771-8641.

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