Legislators ponder recent election at delegation meeting

by | November 30, 2018 5:00 am

Last Updated: November 27, 2018 at 4:18 pm

Five of the eight legislators who represent Colleton County in Columbia came to the meeting room of Colleton Memorial Library for a legislative delegation meeting the evening of Nov. 26.
The session was originally scheduled to be held in Edisto Beach in September but was cancelled when Hurricane Florence came calling.
S.C. Rep. Robert Brown, D-Hollywood, was the lone member of the legislative delegation from the South Carolina House of Representatives to attend the meeting. State representatives Justin T. Bamberg, D-Bamberg, Patsy Knight, D-St. George, and Michael Rivers Jr., D-Lady’s Island, did not attend.
Brown joined all four state senators at the main table before an audience of about 30. State Senators John W. Matthews, D-Columbia; C. Bradley Hutto, D-Orangeburg; and George E. “Chip” Campsen III, R-Charleston, joined S.C. Sen. Margie Bright Matthews, D-Walterboro, the chairman of the Colleton County Legislative Delegation.
The legislators heard a brief report on the recent election from Angela Upchurch, director of the Colleton County Voter Registration and Elections, and Lynette Fryar, chairperson of the Voter Registration and Election Board.
Upchurch outlined the problem that led to Colleton County starting Nov. 6 Election Day with voters casting paper ballots because the voting machines were not working.
The mass of paper ballots cast in the first hours of the election made for a late night for the commission members — the count of Colleton County’s votes was completed at about 4 a.m. the next morning.
Although there were problems, Upchurch told the legislators, voters had a chance to cast their ballots and those votes were properly counted.
Fryar said to hopefully address the manpower concerns in conducting an election, she had talked to County Administrator Kevin Griffin about the possibility of having county employees, who are off on election day, work the polls.
Fryar said Griffin told her that he would bring the suggestion to the members of county council for further discussion.
Earlier in the session, Brown had said that obtaining new voting machines for the state would be one of the topics of discussion for the House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee in the coming year.
Matthews said the problem will be finding the money to pay for the new machines.
Hutto offered that he envisioned a day in the not too distant future when voters can cast a ballot by smart phone and early voting is expanded.
The goal, he said, “is to encourage, not discourage, voting.”
Following Upchurch’s report, Matthews asked she about the age of Colleton County’s voting machines. She said that the machines were between 15 and 18 years old, but the technology that operates them is two decades old.
At the beginning of the meeting, Matthews reported that the delegation office will continue to collect requests for appointment to three posts on the Colleton County Voter Registration Board that are up for appointment and a lone post on the Colleton Transportation Commission.
At the end of the session Darlene Miller, who had been on the ballot for District 4 of the Colleton County School Board, told the legislators that how the election had been handled had been embarrassing. “It was a disaster.”

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