Twenty days after the election and after about 4 hours sitting in a Richland Delegation hearing and that’s basically the answer we were given for what happened.
At least we have some answers but they just led to more questions. Frankly, there’s so much I could write but I’ll just put a few bullet points here.
Oh – and I know this is weird – but, I sure picked a great week to not Tweet of Facebook. Ever have one of those “Dear God, if this happens, then I’ll do such-and-such” kinda moments? I know it doesn’t “work like that”; but let’s just say I was pulling out all the stops for the big game this past Saturday in Clemson and one of those was that I would only Tweet and Facebook ONCE this week if the Gamecocks won. Well…they did and so I simply posted this. So…with this important meeting today, prefiling of bills coming up, Dutch Fork High School playing in a State Championship Saturday, I’m having to stay off until Sunday. It’s killing me. This reminds me of when I “swore off Chickfila Biscuits” for a time a few years back. The Grand Opening of the Ballentine Chickfila actually happened during this time and so imagine how bad it looked that I didn’t want to take the “obligatory bite” at that event. Oh well, here’s a quick take on what I heard today.
If you’re confused, you’re not alone.
* A law states one machine per 250 voters and apparently also 1,500 voters per precinct. Obviously the incorrect amount of machines made it to precincts and (after reviewing math) Richland County only has 39 out of 124 precincts with less than 1,500 voters.
* I learned the county did have enough machines to meet the law. Testimony said we had 970 with 45 not working. That means 925 available. The sheet (which you see picture of above, courtesy of IrmoPatch) showed we needed 864 machines for the election and that list was approved. It seems “the problem” started with one of the other columns.
* An employee interpreted one column (red numbers) to mean Voting Machines (mind you, it does have #Machines written above it, so I could see why someone would think that); but apparently testimony showed this number was NOT supposed to mean voting machines but instead actually PEBs.
* When asked “hypothetically, let’s say we bought new machines that all worked and we made all voting precincts less than 1,500 voters; would we have avoided this mess?” The answer was no. Again, it’s human error.
* Of the 124 Richland County precincts, looks like 80 of them received the same number of voting machines as the numbers in red show (remember, red numbers were actually PEBs); while 32 precincts received more than that rigure and 8 received less (3 of those 8 precincts receiving less were out here in District 71 and 2 of those 32 receiving more where in District 71)
* Speaking of those PEBs (a definition is found in this article), a few of us couldn’t figure out that information from what we heard today. Apparently the number of PEBs per precinct can vary…for example, I couldn’t find out exactly why in one precint Beatty Road they should have received 4 voting machines, they were listed for 4 PEBs and somehow received 4 machines…however….Dentsville should have received 9 voting machines, they were listed as 4 PEBS and somehow received 6 voting machines….lastly, Dutch Fork #2 should have received 11 voting machines, they were listed for 4 PEBs and they received 7 voting machines (after I got 4 more sent out there during the afternoon). So again…how was 4 PEBs listed for those 3 precincts when the booths they should have received were 4, 9, and 11 respectively. I hear 1 PEB can be sent for ever 2 machines…but that still doesn’t explain why Dutch Fork should have received 11 machines but only had 4 PEBs listed for them).
* I also learned (and already knew) I wasn’t the only one asking questions on behalf of my constituents. Representatives Butler-Garrick, Rutherford, and Smith all seemed to be looking for similar answers like I was and also interested in how we “fix this” so it doesn’t happen again.
* Many feel “Early Voting” could be the answer. I shared I”m willing to revisit that; but have to wonder though how the other 45 counties in our state were able to run their elections much smoother and without Early Voting themselves.
* The questions I asked for my constituents stemmed from how and why we had the voting lines and mess on Election Day. Sure, we’ve all read the mishaps and incidents AFTER Election Day but I focused more on the simple question of “Why did people have to wait in line for three, four and even more hours?”
* Lastly, and I should probably thank him, I learned from Sen. Joel Lourie that I did not vote for the legislation that merged our Voter Registration and Election Commission. I was absent that day (a few of us have paying jobs that sometime do not allow us to sit in chamber all day, every day we’re in session).
Good question. We have our “annual” delegation meeting the first week of December (6th, I believe) but I don’t know what action we are taking. I think someone mentioned a “study committee” but I’m not sure what more there is to study.
I didn’t like the answer today (“Human Error”) but it’s better than what many had been thinking. As I told Sen. Darrell Jackson as he brushed off many concerned voters and theories he had heard: “I’m not a conspiracist; I’m a realist”
The reality is apparently someone made a mistake. It happens. I get that. Now, as delegation we have to fix this mess so that it never happens again.