As chairman of the Richland County Voter Registration and Election Commission, I sincerely apologize to the citizens of Richland County for the most recent mishap of the election office. There are no excuses I or anyone can offer for not counting more than 1,100 votes in the Nov. 5 election.
The commission met Oct. 25 to ensure that all of our I's were dotted and T's were crossed. Every operable voting machine and personal electronic ballot were deployed to ensure we didn't have a repeat of Nov. 6, 2012, and to guarantee compliance with state law. On this date, we inquired of the director, Howard Jackson, if there was anything the commission could offer to ensure a smooth election. (One of the issues cited in the Hamm Report was the lack of board supervision of the election office.) Mr. Jackson assured us that everything was in order. Commission members even visited a couple of the precincts that experienced long lines and shortage of voting machines on Nov. 6, 2012. The precincts visited were all operating smoothly.
Most of the complaints received on Election Day from the precinct level had to do with the mayor's race not appearing on the ballot. Of course, one has to live within the boundary of the city to vote in the mayor's race. Everything did go smoothly at the precinct level.
The Election Commission does not micromanage Mr. Jackson and his supervision of his staff. What happened two weeks ago is unacceptable and inexcusable. The county election office, under the interim leadership of Jasper Salmond, conducted two elections and no such problems were cited.
This situation must and will be dealt with and corrected. We ask your patience as we evaluate the leadership and staff of this office. As chairman, I pledge nothing less than elections with no problems or glitches, because only that can restore the confidence the people of Richland County once had in its election process.
Chairman Allen Dowdy
Vice chairman Adelle Adams
Richland County Voter Registration and Election Commission