Lawyer to present final report today on Richland County’s election woes

Lawyer Steve Hamm will present his third and final report to the Richland County Election Commission on Thursday afternoon.

The report is expected to detail Hamm’s further findings about last November’s widespread election failures at county polling places, as well as present his recommendations on how to avoid those failures in the future.

Hamm declined Wednesday to discuss the report’s specifics until after he has discussed it with county election board members. However, he said he expects it will be made public after that.

Hamm, a private Columbia lawyer with an extensive background in election issues, has submitted $72,000 worth of bills for work he and his firm have done since he was hired last November to determine what went wrong on Election Day.

Parts of Hamm’s earlier reports, which detailed rampant failures among top county elections officials, helped lead to the demotion and salary reduction of former county Elections and Voter Registration office director Lillian McBride.

November’s election, believed to be the most bungled county election in modern state history, was marked by severe voting machine shortages at many of the county’s 124 precincts that led in many cases to waits of more than five hours. An unknown number of people didn’t want to wait or couldn’t wait and left the polling places without voting. About 200 operable voting machines were inexplicably left in a county warehouse on election day.

The board meets at 3 p.m. Thursday at the county administration building, at the corner of Hampton and Harden streets.