Richland County Council doesn’t want roll-call voting

The majority of Richland County Council members this week voted against a proposal for on-the-record roll-call voting for all council decisions.

Councilmen Seth Rose, who proposed the motion, and Greg Pearce were the only members who voted in favor of changing council’s practice of voting collectively “aye” or “nay.” Currently, a council member can make a request for division on a vote, in which case council members raise their hands in favor of or against an issue, and the clerk calls out the names of who votes which way.

It’s a matter of accountability and transparency, Rose said.

“I strongly believe this is one of the most important things we can be debating, to have some accountability on each and every vote so we know how each council member votes on each and every issue,” Rose said. “It’s a security measure; a safeguard that the citizens of Richland County would welcome.”

Other local governments, including Columbia City Council and Lexington County Council, vote by roll call.

Rose expressed clear disappointment in the council’s unwillingness to change its practice.

“It is a sad day in Richland County when we have elected officials, in the year 2015, that are voting against having each and every one of their votes recorded so that they can be accountable to the citizens of Richland County,” Rose said. “I want my constituents to know how I vote.”

Other council members, though, said they saw no need to change the council’s voting practice.

“The council has been doing it for long before I got there and since I’ve been there,” Councilman Jim Manning said.

Manning is a member of the council’s Rules and Appointments Committee, along with Bill Malinowski and Julie-Ann Dixon, that unanimously recommended council maintain its current voting procedure.

Manning said he doesn’t think it is necessary for the public to know how individual council members vote on each decision that is made, which includes approving agendas, minutes and voting on when to go into executive session or when to adjourn a meeting.

Council meetings are recorded, live-streamed and archived for any interested citizen to view, he noted.

And if citizens want to know how he votes on any issue, Manning said, they can simply ask.

“If they don’t think I’m telling them the truth on how I voted, then I think that raises a more important issue,” Manning said.

Reach Ellis at (803) 771-8307.