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Incompentence, Not Disenfranchisement in Richland County Election Woes

Long lines plagued voting during in Richland County’s have prompted questions over what went wrong.

Michael Letts, who was recently defeated by Jim Manning for a seat on Richland County Council, said, “there appears to be overwhelming evidence that voters showed up intending to cast votes in this election, but left without doing so; and because evidence strongly suggested that was because of deficiencies on the part of Richland County’s Election Commission, it seems reasonable to request a new election for Richland County.”

I’ve also read bits accusing officials of voter disenfranchisement. That’s a strong word to toss around.

In reality its much simpler, Incompetence. This is a failure of the system to prepare for the elections properly, not a systematic method to deny the right to vote for people.

While I expect to see some heads roll in the county administration building I would be shocked if we saw new elections. Lets move forward and find out what went wrong on Tuesday so we wont see a repeat of this in 4 years instead of a do-over that will accomplish little.

Seth Rose, of Richland County Council recently commented that the department received more money than it ever had. One thing I would recommend to County Administrators is to resist the urge to throw even money at the problem. If this turns out indeed to be a personnel issue and not a funding issue the only money that needs be spent is on a job posting to replace the brain trust that was responsible for the voting fiasco.

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Val Hutchinson Edges out Dixon 

It was close but looks like we are going to get another 4 years from Val Hutchinson. Trailing last night but the last precint reporting let her squeeze ahead in council's closest race of just less than 200 or 50.6% of the votes.

This might not be the final tally as it still lists the results as unofficial.


3am Election Aftermath

With 104 of 124 precints voting looks like the Penny Tax is in this time.

Yes is leading by about 9,000 votes or 54% of the vote.

In Richland County Jim Manning is cruising to another term recieving 71% of the vote so far.

Val Hutchinson time on council appears to be waning. She is trailing Julie Ann Dixon by about 800 votes with 10 of 11 precints reporting.

Torrey Rush also coasted into Kennedy's old seat after taking the Democratic primary. So far recieving 83% of the vote over with a few precints outstanding.


Richland County Pro Sales Tax Committee Fails to File any Ethics Reports

There is a lot of money flying around the state right now to influence political campaigns with little or no disclosure. The penny sales tax referendum is no exception.

Citizens for a Greater Midlands hasn’t filed any ethics reports with the SC Ethics Commission since the failed referendum in 2010.


Meanwhile The State reported in a July 19thstory by Dawn Henshaw

That year, an arm of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce raised close to $250,000 for a campaign. Strategist Heyward Bannister said he’s had two years to establish ties with more neighborhoods, community groups, churches and big companies with employees who ride the bus to work.

That’s a lot of money.

Richland County has moved forward from the failed 2010 by providing a detailed project list and established a 15 person citizens committee to give oversight over the projects. It also added $50,000 of County dollars for “educational” purposes.

The pro tax group is apparently taking advantage of a loophole established by changing of the word “committee”. This is allowing them to raise and spend unlimited cash with no reporting required to the ethics commission.

This is of concern to me because of the concern on where the money is coming from. The states sales tax is ripe with loopholes. For example newspapers are exempt. I wouldn’t go so far to say that this is affecting their coverage but the State Paper will be completely unaffected by the tax. It won’t factor into its bottom line.

What other companies could be pushing for the tax that they will reap benefits for yet won’t affect their business in the least?

Attempts to contact the Citizens for a Greater Midlandsvia Facebook and their website received no response.

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Observations from Early Voting

I absentee voted today at the Richland County Administration building and wanted to share my experience. It was a fairly smooth process. They have 4 lines set up and 8 voting booths so things went pretty quick. I was out in about 10 minutes. If you vote absentee at Richland County in person it is electronic voting.

Turnout looked decent while I was there. It was fairly late in the day so that was probally part of it. Poll watchers confirmed it was fairly steady all day.

As far as Poll Greeters they had several ladies advocating Antjuan Seawright for Richland School Board. They also were advocating Yes for the Penny Sales Tax Local option as well.

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