Richland County should refuse to pay for the hours charged by a lawyer who helped negotiate a new county job for demoted elections director Lillian McBride, some on County Council said Wednesday. Others said Richland County has no obligation to cover any of the legal bills — more than $153,000 — for investigating what went wrong during Nov. 6 balloting and defending the election results in court. Councilman Seth Rose objected to the legal department’s request for the money, saying he’s frustrated the county had to boost funding for the elections office last year even though county officials have no hand in supervising its performance. That job goes to local legislators, who also set the funding. Ultimately, council members deferred action.
Articles about voting issues in South Carolina.
The Justice Department will monitor voting in Charleston County, South Carolina, in Tuesday’s special election to fill a House of Representatives seat, the department said on Monday. Former South Carolina Republican Governor Mark Sanford is facing Democratic newcomer Elizabeth Colbert Busch, sister of television political satirist Stephen Colbert, in the First District House race. The Justice Department said in a statement it was monitoring the election under provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The law bars election discrimination on the basis of race, color or membership in a minority language group.
Richland County taxpayers are footing the bill for nearly $153,000 in legal fees to investigate what went so wrong in the Nov. 6 election and to fend off protests that threatened to unravel the results. The expenses, detailed in a 46-page packet obtained by The State newspaper under South Carolina’s open-records law, include:
• $72,423.10 for lawyer Steve Hamm, hired at the request of the Richland County Board of Elections & Voter Registration, to uncover the web of mistakes that resulted in waits of up to seven hours for voters and a cache of misplaced ballots.
• $9,461.25 for a lawyer to represent the interests of elections director Lillian McBride, viewed as incompetent by her critics and as a scapegoat by her defenders. She since has been demoted to a deputy director.
A Los Angeles filmmaker’s documentary isn’t giving South Carolina’s voting system rave reviews. ”It really is incumbent upon us, ‘We the people,’ to own our elections,” Filmmaker Jason Smith said. Jason Smith wasn’t a big fan of politics until 2010. ”I didn’t know anything about election integrity prior to what happened with this Alvin Greene story,” he said. After Greene won the state’s Democratic primary for a U.S. Senate seat in 2010 without much of a campaign, Smith took a hard look at voting integrity.
South Carolinians on both sides of the voter-identification battle claimed victory in a federal court ruling in 2012. The statute requiring voters to present state-approved photo identification in order to cast ballots in elections and primaries was upheld by a panel of three federal judges. Enforcement was delayed until after the 2012 election. Republicans were happy because the GOP-dominated Legislature had its efforts vindicated, with the judges finding no discriminatory intent behind the law. Democrats were happy because the law challenged by the U.S. Justice Department as discriminatory to minorities and the elderly did not impact Election Day 2012. Important now is how the new law is being applied in the state. No one is screaming because the court diluted the ID requirement. In virtually any instance, a voter is able to cast a ballot. Judges made clear that ensuring just that was integral to their decision.
South Carolina: Early-voting bill advances in House despite Democratic opposition | Anderson Independent Mail
The GOP-controlled South Carolina House of Representatives on Thursday approved an early-voting bill that Democrats say would give people less time to cast their ballots before an election. The measure, sponsored by Republican Rep. Alan Clemmons of Myrtle Beach, calls for opening early-voting centers in each South Carolina county during a nine-day window before elections. Democrats complained that the legislation would eliminate the existing one-month period before elections when voters can complete absentee ballots in person. “We should not do anything to deny free and ready access to the vote,” said Rep. Joe Neal, a Democrat from Hopkins. “Let me be clear: This is designed to suppress the vote in South Carolina.”
South Carolina: Stephen Colbert endorses sister Elizabeth Colbert Busch: Do campaign finance laws apply? | Slate Magazine
As the faux-conservative Colbert Report host, Stephen Colbert has lampooned campaign finance laws and the U.S. electoral system by starting his own super PAC and announcing bids for the presidency and “the president of the United States of South Carolina.” But another Colbert—this one with a hard t at the end—is also vying for the political spotlight: Elizabeth Colbert Busch, Stephen’s older sister, who’s facing off against avid Appalachian Trail hiker and former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford in a May 7 special election for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. Colbert has twice devoted show segments to his sister’s campaign, including one endorsing her candidacy, and has mocked Sanford on countless occasions. With the show’s nightly viewership of 1.5 million and the documented “Colbert bump” in a politician’s support after an appearance, is Colbert violating election laws by blending his hosting role with his sister’s campaign?
South Carolina Republicans who want to block Democrats from voting in GOP primaries have been unable to persuade state lawmakers to change election law, and they’re stalled in federal court. Now they’re turning to party rules, trying to line up enough delegates to make a big switch in GOP practice: Picking nominees through a vote of activists at a state convention in 2014 instead of through the current open primary in which anyone can vote. Favoring the change, which would have to be approved by 75 percent of delegates at a state convention, are some activists who have long complained that the current system facilitates the nomination of so-called RINOS – or Republicans in Name Only. These activists argue that non-Republicans must be kept from voting in GOP primaries if the party is going to put forward nominees who reflect the conservative values of its rank and file. But longtime Republicans who helped build the state party over the years say the current system has served the GOP well.
South Carolina’s electronic voting machines do not produce hard copies of votes, and it would cost taxpayers $17.3 million to add that capability to the state’s existing machines, according to a report by the Legislative Audit Council. “The audit process in South Carolina is limited by the absence of a voter verifiable paper audit trail,” the report said. The report notes that “without paper ballots, the reconstruction of the votes cast is not possible.” But the report does not give a recommendation on whether the state should update its electronic voting machines to produce a hard copy of votes. The report notes the paper ballots “undermines the voting access of people with disabilities” and that hand counting ballots always introduces the possibility of “human error.”
South Carolina: Review: South Carolina voting machines not certified by federal EAC | MidlandsConnect.com
A review released by the South Carolina General Assembly Legislative Audit Council says voting machines used in South Carolina are not certified by a federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC). The 62-page report breaks down where the state stands with current voting machines, evaluates training requirements and looks at alternatives to the current voting machines. The review, which was requested by the former President Pro Tempore of the South Carolina Senate, Glenn McConnell, goes on to say the machines South Carolina uses are not certified by the EAC and do not produce paper audit trails. However, South Carolina’s requirements meet the minimum requirements in the Help America Vote Act. The EAC was established in 2002 after Congress passed the Help America Vote Act. According to the review, the EAC is without its four commissioners and has not revised the 2005 Voluntary Voting System Guidelines. The report also says an EAC official claims the lack of commissioners does not affect the testing and certification of voting systems except in accrediting new test laboratories or if a voting system manufactureer wants to appeal a decertification deicision.